Controversy In ROCOR (A) Concerning Ukraine-Russia Conflict

August 12, 2014

A controversy within ROCOR (A) has been developing recently over the conflict currently taking place in eastern Ukraine between  Russia and Ukraine.  The controversy’s immediate locus has centered around the recent events at the youth Camp of the Holy Martyr Tsareivich Alexi in Udmurtia (a subject republic of the Russian Federation), near its capital of Izhevsk. A brief overview of the events of the camp and photos can be found here and here.

Portal-Credo in an article yesterday covered the subject matter, though with an obvious negative bent against the ROCOR (A) Archpriest, Fr. Sergei Kondakov (and presumably ROCOR (A) Bishop Dionysius [Alferov] who has written against the concept of Ukrainian Nationalism, calling it a “spiritual problem”).  Yet, Fr. Sergei found that he was being most criticized by an American source, for which he found a need to respond in his “Answer to a Perturbed American” (note: graphic picture of a war victim in the link).  Archpriest Sergei Kondakov responded to an American critic (identified only as “Mr. Daniel”), who posted very negative and angry comments to news of the youth camp on “Internet-Sobor”.

The conflict seems symptomatic of wider political problems that have developed as a result of the recent conflict in Ukraine. As we know, the situation in Ukraine is complicated by the fact that Crimea was originally part of Russia, but, was transferred in 1954, by order of Kruschev, to the Ukrainian Socialist Republic (remember, Kruschev himself was Ukranian, and thus well-disposed to such a move).  The complications become more evident when we take into account that Lenin, the founder of the Soviet Communist State, in order to confirm ‘friendlier’ relations with his Ukrainian Bolshevik brethren, gave away provinces of western Russia to Ukraine in 1919 (thus forming the current disputed provinces of Eastern Ukraine, that were originally Russian). As Alexander Solzhenitsy said in a 1994 interview for Forbes magazine:

“In 1919, when he imposed his regime on Ukraine, Lenin gave her several Russian provinces to assuage her feelings. These provinces have never historically belonged to Ukraine. I am talking about the eastern and southern territories of today’s Ukraine.”

With ROCOR (A) HQ in Odessa (defacto), and Met. Agafangel’s traditional support for the Ukrainian independent state, there was undoubtedly to be some bit of conflict with ROCOR (A) clergy and laity who reside in the Russian Federation.  However, Fr. Sergei, despite the anger shown toward himself and others by the ‘perturbed American’, states:

“For us, what is happening now – it is a real tragedy, one in which we need to keep the unity of Christ’s love. It is important that all of us, regardless of our political leanings, remember: we are primarily Christians; particularly relevant now are the words of the Elder St. Seraphim : “My joy, Acquire the spirit of peace, and then thousands of souls will be saved about you.”