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09KYIV39, UKRAINE’S MOSCOW PATRIARCHATE EMPHASIZES

January 9, 2009

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
09KYIV39 2009-01-09 16:19 2011-08-30 01:44 UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY Embassy Kyiv

VZCZCXRO3494
PP RUEHIK RUEHLN RUEHPOD RUEHSK RUEHVK RUEHYG
DE RUEHKV #0039/01 0091619
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 091619Z JAN 09
FM AMEMBASSY KYIV
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 6997
INFO RUEHZG/NATO EU COLLECTIVE
RUCNCIS/CIS COLLECTIVE

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 KYIV 000039 
 
SENSITIVE 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: N/A 
TAGS: PGOV PHUM PREL SCUL UP
SUBJECT: UKRAINE'S MOSCOW PATRIARCHATE EMPHASIZES 
INDEPENDENT STANCE 
 
Sensitive but unclassified.  Please handle accordingly. 
 
Summary 
------- 
 
1.  (SBU) The head of external relations for the Ukrainian 
Orthodox Church - Moscow Patriarchate (UOC-MP) emphasized its 
apolitical stance in a meeting with Emboff.  He acknowledged 
that the church's pro-Yanukovych position in the 2004 
presidential elections was a mistake and emphasized its 
independence as a Ukrainian branch of the Russian Orthodox 
Church (ROC).  He credited Metropolitan Volodymyr with 
holding together Ukraine's Orthodox community, which was at 
risk of fracturing because of President Yushchenko's efforts 
to get official recognition for churches considered 
schismatic by the UOC-MP.  He did not rule out the 
possibility that Volodymyr could become the next patriarch of 
the ROC but hinted that he was not the most likely candidate. 
 End Summary. 
 
Support for Yanukovych in 2004 a Mistake 
---------------------------------------- 
 
2.  (SBU) Archimandrite Cyril Hovorun, Chief of the UOC-MP's 
External Relations Department, emphasized that the church 
took an apolitical stance in recent years following its open 
support for Viktor Yanukovych in the 2004 presidential 
elections.  He acknowledged that the church's support for 
Yanukovych had been a mistake.  To highlight his point, he 
noted that the church has stayed out of politics since 2004. 
He also mentioned that the church publicly condemned 
unofficial Orthodox groups in 2007, which had made 
unauthorized pro-Russian statements in the name of the 
church. 
 
ROC Should Respect Ukraine 
-------------------------- 
 
3.  (SBU) Hovorun emphasized that the UOC-MP had been 
asserting its independence as a Ukrainian branch of the 
Russian Orthodox Church (ROC).  He noted that ROC leaders had 
expressed displeasure about the UOC-MP Synod's resolution on 
December 20, 2008 to support UOC-MP Metropolitan Volodymyr's 
candidacy for the Patriarch of the ROC.  Although the synod's 
statement was not an official nomination, but rather a 
statement of support should Volodymyr choose to accept, it 
was signal of independence by the UOC-MP.  Hovorun concluded 
that church leadership in Moscow will have to learn to accept 
and respect Ukraine's independence. 
 
Volodymyr still Needed in Ukraine 
--------------------------------- 
 
4.  (SBU)  Hovorun mentioned that Volodymyr has not accepted 
the synod's offer of support to become Patriarch of the ROC 
and added that he was still needed in Ukraine.  He hinted 
that Volodymyr was not the most likely candidate to fill the 
position left vacant after Alekisy's death.  However, Hovorun 
did not rule out the possibility that Volodymyr could become 
the next Patriarch of the ROC 
 
Volodymyr Prevents Split 
------------------------ 
 
5.  (SBU) Hovorun said that President Yushchenko's 
involvement in the celebrations marking the 1020th 
anniversary of the Christianization of the Kyiv Rus in July 
2008 almost caused a split in the UOC-MP.  Yushchenko, who 
has long sought to establish a unified Ukraine Orthodox 
church independent of Moscow's influence, invited the 
Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople Bartholomew I without 
conferring with the UOC-MP.  The ROC reacted negatively to 
Bartholomew's invitation but Russian Patriarch Aleksiy 
eventually agreed to attend the ceremonies in Kyiv.  Hovorun 
felt that Yushchenko should have consulted the church before 
inviting Bartholomew. 
 
6.  (SBU) Hovorun believes that Yushchenko wanted Bartholomew 
to officially recognize the Ukrainian Orthodox Church - Kyiv 
Patriarchate (UOC-KP) and Ukrainian Autocephalous Church 
(UAC).  Bartholomew's recognition of the UOC-KP and UAC, 
considered to be schismatic by the UOC-MP, has been strongly 
opposed by UOC-MP and ROC leadership.  Hovorun said that if 
Bartholomew were to recognize the "schismatic" churches, 
UOC-MP communities  in western Ukraine would likely break 
from the UOC-MP while its communities in the east would seek 
closer ties to the ROC. 
 
7.  (SBU)  Hovorun said that Volodymyr negotiated with 
Bartholomew, Patriarch Aleksiy of the ROC, and the leaders of 
 
KYIV 00000039  002 OF 002 
 
 
the UOC-KP and UAC in the lead-up to the July celebrations to 
avoid a split.  When the celebrations were held, both 
Bartholomew and Aleksiy made general statements calling for 
unity and understanding within Ukraine's Orthodox community 
while UOC-KP and UAC leaders kept a low profile.  If 
Bartholomew had recognized the UOC-KP and UAC, this would 
have weakened the UOC-MP's unifying influence and exacerbated 
divisions between eastern and western Ukraine asserted 
Hovorun.  He added that Volodymyr had sought to improve 
relations with the UOC-KP and UAC by establishing a dialogue 
with the churches since the July events. 
 
Comment 
------- 
 
8.  (SBU)  Recent events seem to confirm Hovorun's assertion &#x0
00A;that the UOC-MP is willing to express views not well received 
in Moscow.  For example, in November it released a statement 
referring to the Holodomor as genocide.  We also noted that 
Metropolitan Volodymyr played a prominent role in the 
official commemoration of the Holodomor in November. 
Although Hovorun did not rule out the possibility that 
Volodymyr could become patriarch of the ROC, his advanced 
years and frailty make this unlikely. 
TAYLOR

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