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Putin power damaged by in split with Orthodox Church over Ukraine

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putin patriarch bartholomew
Vladimir Putin
severed his country’s ties with the Orthodox Church after its
head, Patriarch Bartholomew, undermined Russia’s religious power
in Ukraine. Here, a composite image of Putin and
Bartholomew.

Reuters; Huseyin
Aldemir/Reuters


  • A powerful Orthodox priest activated a 1,567-year-old
    power to elevate the status of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church
    and make it on par with its Russian counterpart.
  • Previously, Russia had power over the Ukrainian
    Orthodox Church, and the move damages its international
    prestige.
  • The Russian Orthodox Church severed ties with the
    Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople as a result.
  • Bartholomew’s decision is likely a big blow to Vladimir
    Putin, who has close ties to the Russian Orthodox Church and
    has asserted Russia’s religious dominance over
    Ukraine.

Vladimir Putin faced a major blow to his power when a powerful
Orthodox priest used an ancient and obscure power to undermine
Russia’s religious influence in Ukraine.

On October 11 the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople — an
Istanbul-based religious body that oversees Orthodoxy
Christianity — recognized the
independence
of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, which had
previously been subservient to Russia.

Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, the head of the church,
elevated the statuses of two bishops in Ukrainian churches and
gave them power to set up an independent church on the same
footing as their Russian counterpart.

In doing so, Bartholomew relied on an authority granted to his
office in the early days of Christianity, established
at the Council of Chalcedon in 451 AD
. The power has hardly
ever been used, and took many be surprise.

The Russian Orthodox Church — with whom Putin has warm relations
— responded to the slight by cutting ties with the rest of the
Orthodox church.

The split has been described as the biggest schism in Orthodox
Christianity since the Orthodox church became independent from
the Roman Catholic Church in 1054, the BBC
reported
.


poroshenko filaret orthodox
Ukraine
President Petro Poroshenko meets with Patriarch Filaret, head of
the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Kiev Patriarchate, on
October 11, 2018.

Mykhailo
Markiv/Ukrainian Presidential Press Service/Handout via
Reuters


The new religious order effectively undermines Russia’s religious
power in Ukraine.

Shortly after Bartholomew’s decision was announced, Ukrainian
President Petro Poroshenko said according to
the BBC
: “It’s an issue of Ukrainian national security. It’s
an issue of Ukrainian statehood.”

Relations between Moscow and Kiev deteriorated after Russia
annexed Ukraine in March 2014, and were strained further when a
Soviet-made missile shot
down a Malaysia Airlines flight MH17
over an area in Ukraine
that was controlled by pro-Russian rebels.

Moscow has also repeatedly claimed to be spiritually inseparable
from Ukraine, a claim undermined by the Orthodox church’s
decision to make Ukraine independent.

“In people’s hearts and minds, Crimea has always been an
inseparable part of Russia,” Putin said in a
speech
to the nation in March 2014, when the annexation was
ongoing.


Ukraine Avdiivka Russia
A
Ukrainian soldier shows spent artillery rounds fired at them by
Russian-backed separatists in Avdiivka, Ukraine, in April
2017.

Daniel Brown/Business
Insider


Putin hits back

The Russian church on Monday said that it could no longer
continue being in “Eucharistic communion” with the Istanbul
religious body. This means that Russian Orthodox believers can no
longer take communion with people from other branches of the
church.

Metropolitan Hilarion, a bishop in the Russian Orthodox Church,
said that the recognition of the Ukraine church went “against
historical truth,” according to the BBC.

The Orthodox Church commands a huge presence and power in Russia.
It is the largest
religion
in the country and boasts tens of millions of
followers.


putin kirill shoigu
Vladimir
Putin, Patriarch Kirill, and Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu at a
military theme park outside Moscow in September
2018.

Sputnik/Alexei Nikolsky/Kremlin
via Reuters


Putin cozy with the Orthodox Church

Its head, Patriarch Kirill — who was reportedly an
informant for the the KGB
, the Soviet spy agency for which
Putin worked, during the Cold War — is closely aligned to Putin
and his policies, and in 2012 called Putin’s rule a “miracle
of God
.”

Putin also relies on the Russian Orthodox Church to endorse many
of his polices, such as his opposition to feminism and same-sex
marriage,
according to Foreign Policy
.

Putin’s popularity at home hit a record low this year when he

broke a 13-year-old promise not to hike the country’s national
retirement age
, which could mean that many Russians will miss
out on a pension altogether.

Russia and its military also suffered a
series of embarrassing blunders over the past few weeks
as
Western investigators claimed that the GRU, the country’s
military intelligence service, was behind a
nerve agent poisoning
in England and an
attempted hack
into the global chemical weapons watchdog in
the Netherlands this spring.

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