War-damaged church in Irpin, Ukraine

The Russian Foreign Ministry blamed the U.S. for “hushing up information” about Kyiv’s crackdown and crimes committed against the Ukrainian Orthodox Church that maintained close ties with the Russian Orthodox Church. 

The ministry said the U.S. puts on the façade that it advocates for religious freedoms, but Washington “never criticized the destructive church policy of [Ukrainian President Volodymyr] Zelensky,” according to RT, the Russian news outlet. 

“By their inaction, they apparently signal to their underlings that they approve of their lawless actions.”

Zelensky has consolidated his power during the war with Russia and accused the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of collaborating with Moscow and helping to spread propaganda. Zelensky framed his crackdown as an effort to secure his country’s “spiritual independence.”

The crackdown culminated on 6 July when monks were evicted from the Kyiv Monastery of the Caves in Lavra. 

The monastery is considered one of the holiest sites in Ukraine. The site is owned by the Ukrainian government but houses monks from the Ukrainian Orthodox Church. Some of those monks belong to the Moscow Patriarchate. These monks recognize leadership from the Russian Orthodox Church that has spoken out in support of the Ukraine invasion.

TRENDPOST: Zelensky, the former sitcom actor, who in his role played the president of Ukraine before becoming officially elected, has banned political opposition, shut down all media, and told Ukrainians they can only worship in state-approved churches…clearly this war is not about preserving democracy. (See “ZELENSKY TO UKRAINIAN MEDIA: I OWN YOU” 10 Jan 2023, “DUH-MOCK-RACY IN ACTION: UKRAINE’S ZELENSKY POSTPONES ELECTIONS UNTIL AFTER WAR” 5 Jul 2023, and “ZELENSKY, THE WEST’S HERO, TELLS RUSSIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH TO GO TO HELL” 6 Dec 2022.)

“This approach toward the Orthodox Church clearly contradicts those eager to portray this war as a clear-cut conflict between an authoritarian oppressor and a democratic underdog,” Jonathan Tobin, the editor-in-chief of, wrote in Newsweek in December. He continued, “One would think that this latest evidence of the dictatorial nature of the Zelensky regime would take some of the shine off his reputation as the 21st century’s hero of democracy. But so strong is belief in his virtue that little attention is being paid to the truth about what he is doing.”

The Russian Foreign Ministry’s 30-page report laid out how Kyiv targeted the church, from law enforcement actions to forced conversions of parishes. 

The ministry said Kyiv has given its blessing to the Orthodox Church of Ukraine, which was created in 2018 under former President Pyotr Poroshenko, who is still a very popular figure and was seen as Zelensky’s top challenger in the next election – if that ever occurs. 

The ministry said the religious crackdown is still not a priority for the West—including the UN—and these bodies normally provide “non-committal answers that say they are monitoring the situation.”

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