On September 29, a Politicano Facebook page, based on an article by a Russian edition Lenta.ru, published a piece saying that allegedly, a Ukrainian ultra-nationalist party and movement «Правий сектор» broke into one of the Orthodox churches in Ivano-Frankivsk, Western Ukraine, stormed it and physically abused the believers. Politicano refers to the Ukrainian political party and movement «Правий сектор» as a terrorist organization, whose activity, they claim, is not restricted by the Government of Ukraine.
Politicano’s Lenta.ru-based claim on «Правий сектор» breaking into the Orthodox church and storming it is a disinformation. There are no evidences of the alleged assault and storming of the church. In fact, the confrontation arose after a decision made by the local assembly, according to which one of the buildings next to the church, subordinate to the Russian Patriarchate, was handed over to a musical school. In the process of handing over the building, representatives of the local government and police were at the site.
Politicano keeps up with the Russian narrative, according to which the autonomous Ukrainian church, subordinate to the Russian Patriarchate, was subject to attacked.
Lenta.ru’s article, shared by Politicano, was based on the information, disseminated by the Autonomous Ukrainian Orthodox Church, which is subject to the Patriarchate of Moscow. According to the given statement, on September 28, the members of the organization «Правий сектор» broke into the Holy Trinity Church, broke windows, doors and physically abused the believers. As a result of the conflict, one citizen got a concussion, while another citizen broke their arm. The events in Ivano-Frankivsk region were covered unilaterally, based on the Autonomous Ukrainian Autonomous Church’s statement, by other pro-Kremlin media outlets as well, such as: Россия-1, Russia Today and TV Zvezda, which is a media outlet of the Ministry of Defense of Russia.
What happened in Ivano-Frankivsk region?
The real reason behind the incident around the Holy Trinity Church in Ivano-Frankivsk region on September 28 was the decision to hand over one of the buildings located near the church to the musical school. According to a statement made by the press-service of Ivano-Frankivsk Police, the assembly’s decision was followed by the confrontation between the representatives of the assembly and the local parish. No third party, including «Правий сектор», was engaged in the conflict.
According to the press-service of the Ukrainian Police, “at this point, there is no conflict, including an inter-confessional one… no illegal act has been carried out against any religious organization.”
It is noteworthy that there are no photo materials showing the assault of «Правий сектор» on the church. The video, attached to the statement of the Autonomous Ukrainian Orthodox Church shows only an altercation, which, most likely, took place between the local parish and the representatives of the assembly. As it can be seen on the video, the altercation does not take place in the church.
«Правий сектор» published a statement, in which it denies the involvement of its activists in the Holy Trinity Church incident and labels the information disseminated by the Autonomous Ukrainian Orthodox Church fake.
The Press-Speaker of «Правий сектор», Artyom Skoropadskiy, says that there were no organization members on the site of the incident only the representatives of police and local government. As he mentioned, “the building that was allegedly stormed by «Правий сектор», belongs to the city assembly. The priest of the church was using it for private purposes, so the city assembly decided to hand over the given building to the musical school. Today, the representatives of the assembly and the police entered the building and changed locks.”
It is noteworthy that in April 2018, the President of Ukraine, Petro Poroshenko addressed the Patriarch of Constantinople, Bartholomeus, with a request to grant autocephaly to the Ukrainian Orthodox Church. On September 23, the Patriarch of Constantinople stated that Ukraine would receive autocephality. The Patriarchate of Russia opposes the assignment of autocephality to the Ukrainian Church.
Politicano’s Facebook page is a medium, associated with Yevgeny Primakov Russo-Georgian Public Center.
Myth Detector’s materials covering this topic:
Four Myths about Ukrainian Church Autocephaly and Patriarchate of Constantinople
Prepared by Ana Kistauri
Myth Detector Lab