The View from Moscow

15 September 2018

Our guest columnist this week, Yuri Palokiwsky, has eloquently described the Ukrainian perspective on Ukraine’s move to gain more religious autonomy. Moscow has a different perspective. For the nonreligious among us, this may be a confusing topic, but the bottom line is that the activities of the Russian branch of the Orthodox church in Ukraine have become a threat to Ukraine’s national security. Not wanting to lose this lever of power over parts of the Ukrainian population has Mr Putin and his friends in something of a tizzy.

In an interview on Sunday, the chairman of the Moscow Patriarchate’s Department for External Church Relations, Metropolitan Hilarion, said that if this goes ahead Moscow will sever ties with Constantinople, calling the move “sneaky and treacherous”. So, let’s just say they’re not taking it well.

Now, this might be just a coincidence (spoiler, it’s not), but about two weeks back, the Associated Press revealed that a Russian hacking group called Fancy Bear had also been found to have hacked the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople. Where have we heard the name Fancy Bear before? Oh, yes, they played interference at Moscow’s behest in the 2016 US Presidential election too. They’re a part of Russian military intelligence for anyone who doesn’t know.

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