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UK nerve agent case against Russia collapses (Video)

The Duran – News in Review – Episode 107.

Alex Christoforou

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Prosecutors in the UK last week claimed that Russian tourists, Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov, were responsible for poisoning Sergei and Yulia Skripal in March.

UK authorities stated that the two men were using aliases during their travels to the UK.

In a stunning twist of events, during an Eastern Economic Forum event, Russian President Russian Vladimir Putin said that Russian authorities had located the two men, confirmed that they are civilians, with no ties to Russian intelligence, and that their real names are in fact Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov…not aliases.

Days after Putin’s forum announcement, Petrov and Boshirov, whom Theresa May claims are professional Russia assassins, gave an exclusive interview with RT.

Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov said they visited London to “cut loose and have some fun” and that they were in Wiltshire to see two well-known tourist attractions, Salisbury Cathedral and Stonehenge.

If these two guys are Russian GRU, super assassins, then John McCain was indeed a peace maker and Hillary Clinton is a champion for human rights.

The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris discuss the RT interview with Petrov and Boshirov, and how RT’s Editor-in-Chief, Margarita Simonyan, may have hinted (through her line of questioning) the real reason behind the men’s visit to London and Salisbury…of which had noting to do with the alleged Novichok poisoning of Sergei and Yulia Skripal.

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Via Zerohedge

The same day the US announced it plans a second round of “very severe” sanctions on Russia over the use of a nerve agent in connection to the West’s allegations surrounding the Skripal poisoning, the alleged perpetrators of the poison attack have appeared on RT News for an exclusive interview with RT’s Editor-in-Chief Margarita Simonyan.

Suffice it to say the whole strange Skripal saga just got a lot more bizarre. The pair told Simonyan in the televised interview that they had nothing to do with it, but were very excited to visit the famous Salisbury cathedral as mere sightseers and were in the Salisbury town briefly on two consecutive days, but that they are not GRU agents or Russian spies.

“Our friends had been suggesting for a long time that we visit this wonderful town,” they said, and explained that after the short visit, their “whole lives were turned upside down” as they suddenly became “framed tourists” caught up in the Skripal cause after being falsely accused by UK authorities.

The pair sat stone-faced throughout the interview and delivered brief, concise answers to RT’s questions, while consistently claiming to have been visiting Britain as tourists, but while also acknowledging it was indeed them that appeared in CCTV footage published by the UK authorities.

“Salisbury? A wonderful town?” RT’s Margarita Simonyan asked. “Yes,” Petrov answered tersely. “It is a tourist town,” Boshirov offered. “There’s a famous cathedral there… It is famous not just in Europe, but in the whole world. It’s famous for its 123-metre spire, it’s famous for its clock, the first one [of its kind] ever created in the world, which is still working.”

Upon the start of the interview wherein the two confirm their true identities as Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov to RT’s Simonyan, the interview proceeds:

SIMONYAN: The guys we all saw in those videos from London and Salisbury, wearing those jackets and trainers, it’s you?

PETROV: Yes, it’s us.

SIMONYAN: What were you doing there?

PETROV: Our friends have been suggesting for quite a long time that we visit this wonderful city.

SIMONYAN: Salisbury? A wonderful city?

PETROV:  Yes.

SIMONYAN: What makes it so wonderful?

BOSHIROV:  It’s a tourist city. They have a famous cathedral there, Salisbury Cathedral. It’s famous throughout Europe and, in fact, throughout the world, I think. It’s famous for its 123-meter spire. It’s famous for its clock. It’s one of the oldest working clocks in the world.

Petrov then explains that the pair planned to visit famous tourist sites in London and in and around Salisbury, but parts of their trip were cut short because of heavy snowfall and inclement weather.

The pair say they only spent three days total in England, due their decision to cut it short, but were in Salisbury for some of that time, on two consecutive days:

SIMONYAN: So, you travelled to Salisbury to see the clock?

PETROV: No, initially we planned to go to London and have some fun there. This time, it wasn’t a business trip. Our plan was to spend some time in London and then to visit Salisbury. Of course, we wanted to do it all in one day. But when we got there, our plane couldn’t land on its first approach. That’s because of all the havoc they had with transport in the UK on March 2 and 3. There was heavy snowfall, nearly all the cities were paralyzed. We were unable to go anywhere.

BOSHIROV: It was in all the news. Railroads didn’t work on March 2 and 3. Motorways were closed. Police cars and ambulances blocked off highways. There was no traffic at all – no trains, nothing. Why is it that nobody talks about any of this?

SIMONYAN: Can you give a time line? Minute-by-minute, or at least hour-by-hour, or as much as you can remember. You arrived in the UK – like you said, to have some fun and to see the cathedral, to see some clock in Salisbury. Can you tell us what you did in the UK? You spent two days there, right?

PETROV: Actually, three.

SIMONYAN: OK, three. What did you do for those three days?

PETROV: We arrived on March 2. We went to the train station to check the schedule, to see where we could go.

BOSHIROV: The initial plan was to go there for a day. Just take a look and return the same day.

PETROV: To Salisbury, that is. One day in Salisbury is enough. There’s not much you can do there.

BOSHIROV: It’s a regular city. A regular tourist city.

SIMONYAN: OK, I get that. That was your plan. But what did you actually do? You arrived. There was heavy snowfall. No trains, nothing. So, what did you do?

PETROV: No, we arrived in Salisbury on March 3. We wanted to walk around the city but since the whole city was covered with snow, we spent only 30 minutes there. We were all wet.

In comments that will likely be able to be easily proven or disproven, he followed with: “There are no pictures. The media, television – nobody talks about the fact that the transport system was paralyzed that day. It was impossible to get anywhere because of the snow. We were drenched up to our knees.

In Salisbury, Petrov continued, the two intended “to see Stonehenge, Old Sarum, and the Cathedral of the Blessed Virgin Mary. But it didn’t work out because of the slush.” But they blame the harsh conditions for quickly canceling their plans and “transport collapse”, and they returned the train station after their initial arrival in the town via train from London.

SIMONYAN: All right. You went for a walk for 30 minutes, you got wet. What next?

PETROV: We travelled there to see Stonehenge, Old Sarum, and the Cathedral of the Blessed Virgin Mary. But it didn’t work out because of the slush. The whole city was covered with slush. We got wet, so we went back to the train station and took the first train to go back. We spent about 40 minutes in a coffee shop at the train station.

BOSHIROV: Drinking coffee. A hot drink because we were drenched.

PETROV: Maybe a little over an hour. That’s because of large intervals between trains. I think this was because of the snowfall. We went back to London and continued with our journey.

BOSHIROV: We walked around London…

SIMONYAN: So, you only spent an hour in Salisbury?

PETROV: On March 3? Yes. That’s because it was impossible to get anywhere.

SIMONYAN: What about the next day?

PETROV: On March 4, we went back there, because the snow melted in London, it was warm.

BOSHIROV: It was sunny.

PETROV: And we thought – we really wanted to see Old Sarum and the cathedral. So we decided to give it another try on March 4.

SIMONYAN: Another try to do what?

PETROV: To go sightseeing.

BOSHIROV: To see this famous cathedral. To visit Old Sarum.

SIMONYAN: So, did you see it?

BOSHIROV: Yes, we did.

PETROV: On March 4, we did. But again, by lunchtime, there was heavy sleet.

BOSHIROV: For some reason, nobody talks about this.

PETROV: So we left early.

In total, the pair say they spent only an hour on their first day in Salisbury “because it was impossible to get anywhere,” before taking a train back to London. The men say this all happened on March 3rd, the day before the alleged poisoning of Sergei Skripal, a former Russian military officer and double agent for the UK’s intelligence services, and his daughter Yulia Skripal, in the same town.

However, they say they returned to sightsee in Salisbury the next day, March 4, on the day of the Skripal attack.

A handout picture allegedly taken in Salisbury, on March 4, 2018, and released by the British Metropolitan Police purportedly shows Alexander Petrov (R) and Ruslan Boshirov, September 5, 2018 © AFP

And continuing, RT’s Simonyan asked them to divulge proof that they took photographs of the sites. The pair agreed they would provide their tourist photographs to the media as proof of their story.

SIMONYAN: Is it beautiful?

BOSHIROV: The cathedral is very beautiful. There are lots of tourists, lots of Russian tourists, lots of Russian-speaking tourists.

PETROV: By the way, they should have a lot of pictures from the cathedral.

SIMONYAN: Your pictures, you mean?

PETROV: They should show them.

SIMONYAN: I assume you took some pictures while at the cathedral?

PETROV: Of course.

BOSHIROV: Sure, we did. We went to a park, we had some coffee. We went to a coffee shop. We walked around, enjoying those beautiful English Gothic buildings.

PETROV: For some reason, they don’t show this. They only show how we went to the train station.

SIMONYAN: If you give us your pictures, we can show them. So, while you were in Salisbury, did you go anywhere near the Skripals home?

PETROV: Maybe. We don’t know.

BOSHIROV: What about you? Do you know where their house is?

SIMONYAN: I don’t. Do you?

BOSHIROV: We don’t either.

PETROV: I wish somebody told us where it was.

And Boshirov added after the series of questions concerning the Skripal residence: “Maybe we passed it, or maybe we didn’t. I’d never heard about them before this nightmare started. I’d never heard this name before. I didn’t know anything about them.”

On the issue of the alleged “perfume bottle” the UK police claim to have identified as used for delivery of the nerve agent, the two accused men said the prospect is “absurd”.

SIMONYAN: When you arrived in the UK, when you were in London or in Salisbury, throughout your whole trip, did you have any Novichok or some other poisonous agent or dangerous substance with you?

BOSHIROV: No.

PETROV: It’s absurd.

SIMONYAN: Did you have that bottle of Nina Ricci perfume which the UK presents as evidence of your alleged crime?

BOSHIROV: Don’t you think that it’s kind of stupid for two straight men to be carrying perfume for ladies? When you go through customs, they check all your belongings. So, if we had anything suspicious, they would definitely have questions. Why would a man have women’s perfume in his bag?

PETROV: Even an ordinary person would have questions. Why would a man need perfume for women?

And on the issue of the widely circulated and somewhat mysterious (considering the same exact time stamp for each) security camera photographs at Gatwick airport…

SIMONYAN: Right. Here’s the photo that’s got the whole world puzzled. Gatwick. You’re going through the gate at the same time, even at the same second. How do you explain that?

BOSHIROV: I think it’s for them to explain.

PETROV: How can we explain it.

CCTV images of Petrov and Boshirov at Gatwick airport on 2 March 2018.

BOSHIROV: We always go through the gate together. Through the same gate, with the same customs officer. One after another. We walked through that corridor together. We’re always together. As to how it happened – us walking there at the same second and then separately – I think it’s a question that should be put to them.

PETROV: Yeah, on the point of us always going through it together – my English is a bit better, so if any problem crops up, I’m there to help Ruslan out.

SIMONYAN: So you went through together? You didn’t take different corridors?

PETROV: No, we never go through separately.

BOSHIROV: No, never.

SIMONYAN: So what about these photos then? You say it never happened? Or were they doctored?

BOSHIROV: Well, I don’t really know…

PETROV: It’d be a good thing if we could actually remember it…

BOSHIROV: … how they do these things over there. When you arrive at an airport, or leave one, when you go somewhere or other, you never think about the cameras… There’s nothing interesting about them. How they film, or what, or where – I’m not interested in any of that and so I never took any notice. Given that it was them who published these photos with this time on them and all, I think the best thing to do would be to ask them.

Near the end of the interview, the two men explicitly denied working for GRU and demanded a formal apology from the UK government over the whole gambit of accusations.

But when pressed further about how they know each other and their past, said they preferred not give too many public details about their lives, but explained they worked as part of a fitness nutrition supplements business.

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A.F.
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A.F.

Authorities in the Netherlands detained two Russian nationals earlier this year who were suspected of planning a break-in at a Swiss lab that is investigating the poison attack on Sergei Skripal in the English town of Salisbury, according to Dutch and Swiss reports.

The Russians were detained in the Hague, NRC Handelsblad said Friday, citing the results of joint reporting with Swiss newspaper Tages-Anzeiger. The suspects were planning to travel to the Spiez Laboratory, a government-run facility in central Switzerland that investigates nuclear, biological and chemical weapons, and had in their possession equipment to break in,

AM Hants
Member
AM Hants

Prefer the story the Netherlands media was reporting, concerning why the Government were financing terrorists in Syria?

A.F.
Guest
A.F.

The GRU-officers were showing pretending to be ‘tourists……………..total failure by Russia. Their passportnumbers were at one digid the same. The GRU gave them these passports.

Patrick Armstrong
Guest
Patrick Armstrong

That’s because GRU assassins like to be observed and when they are exposed, they show up to be interviewed with a story that can be seen through immediately. It’s Chapt 1 on the GRU Wet Job Handbook: the Anonymity of Being Obvious. Chap 2, by the way, is the bit where you’re told to check the assassination weapon before using it — if it’s an Incredibly Deadly Nerve Agent Securely Packed in an Extra Strengthened Fake Perfume Bottle, be sure to open it up and have a sniff before using it.

A.F.
Guest
A.F.

comment image

The GRU-stamp in their GRU-passports……………

Raymond Comeau
Guest
Raymond Comeau

The UK Nerve agent False Flag scenario was probably formulated by M16 and the plan given to the UK Prime Minister. The goal was to add the faked crime to the chemical weapons false flag which was concocted to cover the posterior Dorsal Fins of the Ba$tards who want to attack Syria yet again. This time the USA is trying to save the hired ter4rorists in Idlib. United Nations and the World Court should indict the UK PM and the USA President for fomenting wars, and trying to frame Russia for doing so. If these two world bodies do nothing… Read more »

RobertX5
Guest
RobertX5

I was not as comfortable as A.M. and A.C. were with the interview by Ms. Simonyan. It struck me as perhaps good enough if you are looking to present it to an audience with a limited understanding of the issues involved, but I suspect someone from ‘The Blogmire’ or ‘Off Guardian’ would be less than impressed. Her knowledge of the minutiae of the affair appeared limited (now to me that is not her fault, as head of R.T. the vast bulk of her time would be dealing with other things) which restricted her ability to clarify exactly where they were,when… Read more »

AM Hants
Member
AM Hants

She did not have long to prepare for the interview. If you were a state funded assassin, would you take ‘Southern Rail’ Sunday service, when the UK was virtually shut down, owing to the weather? If they went to the house, then surely they would have used protective clothing, owing to the toxicity of the military grade nerve agent? How many people does it take to close a door?

Tjoe
Guest
Tjoe

I noticed their many claims of heavy snow and sleet but so far the photo’s I have seen of them, there is no snow or even heavy rain.

dennis
Guest
dennis

The photos are clear evidence that the two men passed through different channels. Simple surveillance cameras are fixed in place. One channel’s camera was about 10 degrees tilted. Also close examination shows differences within the channels. Note the small automatic swing gates through which the men are passing. The gate to Mr. Boshirov’s right side swings more than 90 degrees. The gate to Mr. Petrov’s left side swings more than 90 degrees. Thus the time stamps being identical is actually evidence that the pictures are undoctored. For if the men had passed through the same channel at different times, and… Read more »

dennis
Guest
dennis

There was a Pushkin. There was a Tolstoi. There was a Chekhov. There was a Solzhenitsyn. Russia’s cultural depths were not plowed by shallow men. A half-competent administrator cannot maintain Russian greatness. If Putin fumbled the Petrov and Boshirov case, by publically declaring in a summit meeting “of course they are civilians” when they aren’t, this will make the world less trustful of all things Russian. Forensic evidence that the men are not civilians is not the main trouble. Sleuth-versus-sleuth is an insiders’ game, and evidence can be faked. Rather it will be the Russian people’s failure to stand up… Read more »

dvrr
Guest
dvrr

LOL moron

PhoriAlamaine
Guest
PhoriAlamaine

One thing that another correspondent mentioned was the timeline, comparing the time that the Skripals left their house and the time that the fellows were actually arriving in Salisbury, some two hours apart and later. What becomes a matter of speculation is whether the Russian intelligence forces have developed a form of time travel in order to allow their “agents” to arrive somewhere, go back in time, then return to a form of “present,” all the while doing so without detection. One wonders what vehicle might have been used, available somewhere between Gatwick and Salisbury, before attaching the wiring to… Read more »

AM Hants
Member
AM Hants

The hysteria, concerning the two Russian tourists. Yet, they say nought about the US investing $70 million in Porton Down, just down the road. Or why they need so many bio-chemical weapon labs in Eastern Europe, with full diplomatic immunity.

RENAT KUZMIN: AMERICA PREPARES DEADLY VIRUSES IN 15 LABORATORIES IN UKRAINE… http://www.stalkerzone.org/renat-kuzmin-america-prepares-deadly-viruses-in-15-laboratories-in-ukraine/

A.F.
Guest
A.F.

Tourists hahahaha, just GRU-terrorists………

A.F.
Guest
A.F.

“Last time Russian military claimed to be on holiday was when they invaded Ukraine in 2014,” – British FM on interview with Russians suspected of Salisbury poisoning

voza0db
Guest
voza0db

“Russia invaded Ukraine”… That’s a new one!

Now we all know that you’re just a dumb pro-terrorists slave!

A.F.
Guest
A.F.

You support the Russian-Ukrainian War…………………5000 Russian Army soldiers killed since 2014 in Donbass.

voza0db
Guest
voza0db

Only 5000?!

A.F.
Guest
A.F.

comment image

The booking data of the GRU-officers few hours before their LONDON-flight.

SSS
Guest
SSS

There is no booking data in your picture. It starts with their online registration the day before they travelled to England. Don’t believe everything Bellingcat sells you.

Jane Karlsson
Guest
Jane Karlsson

The two men have mentioned in relation to their nutrition enterprise that they are interested in ‘microelements’ and ‘fat burning’. This could conceivably mean they have heard about copper being necessary for fat burning. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/06/160606200439.htm The UK Department of Health once told me in a letter that ‘copper deficiency is rare’. Actually it’s so common that most of us have it. The obesity epidemic is arguably caused in large part by copper deficiency, and so are the epidemics of heart disease and dementia. You can get into a lot of trouble if you try to inform people about copper deficiency.… Read more »

voza0db
Guest
voza0db

“UK nerve agent case against Russia collapses”

The problem is that THIS WILL NEVER COLLAPSE. The UK and the USofT will use this MI6/CIA/MOSSAD operation to fulfill their actual purpose. Impose sanctions and more sanctions on Russia and all of its allies!

A.F.
Guest
A.F.

No, Because Russian agents poisoned the Skripals as proven by all evidence.

voza0db
Guest
voza0db

ZERO EVIDENCE… It just like the mutTRUMP/RUSSIA collusion! ZERO EVIDENCE!

The only REAL evidence clear to everyone is that you are a dumb pro-terrorists slave…

Tjoe
Guest
Tjoe

Voza….Duran did good dumping the troll infested Disqus, but will they curtail/control them on the new format?

strav
Guest
strav

You would think as double agents the skiprals would have cctv at there front door showing who sprayed the front door? And footage also showed unmasked un protected police in front yar with such deadly toxic nerve agent near by!

A.F.
Guest
A.F.

Swiss Confirm Russians Tried To Hack Lab Analyzing Skripal Samples September 15, 2018 12:33 GMT RFE/RL British military personnel work to remove vehicles from a cordoned off area behind a police station in Salisbury near the place where the Skripals were poisoned in March 2018. British military personnel work to remove vehicles from a cordoned off area behind a police station in Salisbury near the place where the Skripals were poisoned in March 2018. Share 16 The Swiss government has confirmed reports that Dutch authorities had arrested and expelled two suspected Russian spies earlier this year after the two allegedly… Read more »

Tjoe
Guest
Tjoe

Duran did good to change their Disqus format, unfortunately the infestation of troll fleas like AF here, has started in the new format.

Wayne Blow
Guest
Wayne Blow

Britain is nothing, but a “pile of SHIT” on the Eastern shore of Atlantic Ocean !!!!!!!!!

xyz
Guest
xyz
A.F.
Guest
A.F.

New chemical leaks reported in Crimea’s north because of local emergency service’s “recklessness” 16:59, 16 September 2018 UKRAINE 20 0 A possibly repeat release of sulfuric acid in the town of Armyansk was reported on September 13. REUTERS New chemical leaks have been reported in the north of Russian-occupied Crimea because of the local emergency service’s mistake. The cause behind the deterioration in the environmental situation in the town of Armyansk could be “recklessness of the local officials from the occupying administration and emergency service workers of the Russian Federation” in addressing a chemical disaster at the Crimean Titan plant,… Read more »

A.F.
Guest
A.F.

After the meeting with the U.S. national security adviser, John Bolton, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg assured that NATO will continue to support Georgia’s and Ukraine’s efforts to join the Alliance, reports Voice of America.

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Nigel Farage lashes out at Angela Merkel, as Chancellor attends EU Parliament debate (Video)

The Duran Quick Take: Episode 17.

Alex Christoforou

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The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris take a quick look at Nigel Farage’s blistering speech, aimed squarely at Angela Merkel, calling out the German Chancellor’s disastrous migrant policy, wish to build an EU army, and Brussels’ Cold War rhetoric with Russia to the East and now the United States to the West.

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The Ukrainian President Signs a Pact With Constantinople – Against the Ukrainian Church

There is still a chance to prevent the schism from occurring.

Dmitry Babich

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Authored by Dmitry Babich via Strategic Culture:


Increasingly tragic and violent events are taking their toll on the plight of the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Ukraine . After several fights over control of the church’s property, prohibitions and blacklists are starting to spread, affecting respected church figures coming from Russia to Ukraine. The latest news is that the head of the Moscow Theological Academy, Archbishop Amvrosyi Yermakov, was deported from Ukraine back to Russia. Amvrosyi’s name popped up on the black list of Russian citizens who are not deemed “eligible to visit” Ukraine. Obviously, this happened right before his plane landed in Zhulyany, Kiev’s international airport. After a brief arrest, Amvrosyi was put on a plane and sent back to Moscow. This is not the first such humiliation of the Orthodox Church and its priests that has taken place since the new pro-Western regime came to power in Kiev in 2014. Patriarch Kirill of the Russian Orthodox Church has been declared persona non grata throughout Ukraine since 2014. That decision was made by humiliatingly low-level officials. A department within the Ukrainian ministry of culture published a ruling stating that Kirill’s visit to Ukraine’s capital of Kiev “would not be desirable.”

Since the ancestors of modern Russians, Belarusians, and Ukrainians were first baptized in 988 in Kiev, the Patriarchs of the Russian Church have never had problems visiting Kiev, the birthplace of their church. Not even under the Bolsheviks did such prohibitions exist. So, for Patriarch Kirill of the Russian Orthodox Church to be denied permission to visit Kiev can only be compared to a possible prohibition against the pope visiting Rome. Since 2014, there have also been several criminal cases filed against the priests of the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church (UOC MP) because they have called the hostilities in eastern Ukraine a “civil war” and have discouraged the faithful from supporting that war. This has been interpreted by the Ukrainian state authorities as a call for soldiers to desert the army.

Why Poroshenko’s meeting with Bartholomew is ominous

Despite the fact that the UOC MP has become used to all sorts of trouble since 2014, things have been looking even worse for the canonical church lately, as 2018 draws to a close. In early November 2018, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko broke the wall of separation between church and state in the most overt manner possible — he signed “an agreement on cooperation and joint action” between Ukraine and the so called Constantinople Patriarchate, the oldest institution of Orthodox Christianity, which is now based in Turkish Istanbul.

Rostislav Pavlenko, an aide to Poroshenko, wrote on his Facebook page that the agreement (not yet published) is premised on the creation of a new “autocephalous” Orthodox Church of Ukraine — a development that the official, existing Orthodox Churches in Russia and Ukraine view with foreboding as a “schism” that they have done all they can to prevent. Why? Because Poroshenko’s regime, which came to power via a violent coup in Kiev in 2014 on a wave of public anti-Russian sentiment, may try to force the canonical Orthodox Church of Ukraine to merge with other, non-canonical institutions and to surrender to them church buildings, including the famous monasteries in Kiev and Pochai, as well as other property.

President Poroshenko was visibly happy to sign the document — the contents of which have not yet been made public — on cooperation between the Ukrainian state and the Constantinople Patriarchate, in the office of Bartholomew, the head of the Constantinople Patriarchate. Poroshenko smiled and laughed, obviously rejoicing over the fact that the Constantinople Patriarchate is already embroiled in a scandalous rift with the Russian Orthodox Church and its Ukrainian sister church over several of Bartholomew’s recent moves. Bartholomew’s decision to “lift” the excommunication from two of Ukraine’s most prominent schismatic “priests,” in addition to Bartholomew’s declaration that the new church of Ukraine will be under Constantinople’s direct command — these moves were just not acceptable for the canonical Orthodox believers in Russia and Ukraine. Kirill, the Patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church (ROC), as well as Onufriy, the Metropolitan of Kiev and all Ukraine, are protesting loudly, viewing this situation as a breach of two basic principles. First of all, the Ukrainian state has interfered in the church’s affairs, asking Constantinople to give the Ukrainian church “autocephaly,” which that church never requested. Second, Constantinople itself has interfered in the affairs of two autonomous national churches, the Russian and the Ukrainian. In the eyes of Ukrainian and Russian clergy, Bartholomew is behaving like the Roman pope and not as a true Orthodox leader who respects the autonomy and self-rule of the separate, national Orthodox Churches.

The Russian President sympathizes with the believers’ pain

Two days before Poroshenko made his trip to Istanbul, Russian president Vladimir Putin broke with his usual reserve when commenting on faith issues to bitterly complain about the pain which believers in Russia and Ukraine have experienced from the recent divisions within the triangle of Orthodoxy’s three historic capitals — Constantinople, Kiev, and Moscow.

“Politicking in such a sensitive area as religion has always had grave consequences, first and foremost for the people who engaged in this politicking,” Putin said, addressing the World Congress of Russian Compatriots, an international organization that unites millions of ethnic and cultural Russians from various countries, including Ukraine. Himself a practicing Orthodox believer, Putin lauded Islam and Judaism, while at the same time complaining about the plight of Orthodox believers in Ukraine, where people of Orthodox heritage make up more than 80% of the population and where the church has traditionally acted as a powerful “spiritual link” with Russia.

Despite his complaints about “politicking,” Putin was careful not to go into the details of why exactly the state of affairs in Ukraine is so painful for Orthodox believers. That situation was explained by Patriarch Kirill. After many months of tense silence and an unsuccessful visit to Barthlomew’s office in Istanbul on August 31, Kirill has been literally crying for help in the last few weeks, saying he was “ready to go anywhere and talk to anyone” in order to prevent the destruction of the canonical Orthodox Church in Ukraine.

Politics with a “mystical dimension”

Kirill said the attack against the Orthodox Church in Ukraine “had not only a political, but also a mystical dimension.” Speaking in more earthly terms, there is a danger that the 1,000-year-old historical Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate (UOC-MP) — which now owns 11,392 church buildings, 12,328 parishes, and two world-famous monasteries in Ukraine — will be dissolved. The roots of the UOC MP go back to the pre-Soviet Russian Empire and even further back to the era of Kievan Rus, the proto-state of the Eastern Slavs in the tenth-twelfth centuries AD, when the people who would later become Russians, Ukrainians, and Byelorussians were adopting Orthodox Christianity from the Byzantine Empire. It is by far the biggest church in Ukraine, as Mikhail Denisenko’s non-canonical “alternative” church has only 3,700 parishes that include church buildings (fewer than a third of what is owned by the UOC-MP, despite the fact that Denisenko enjoys official support from the Ukrainian state).

What many Russian and Ukrainian believers fear is that the Istanbul-based Patriarch Bartholomew will eventually grant Kiev what is being called autocephaly. In that event, the UOC-MP may be forced to merge with two other, non-canonical churches in Ukraine that have no apostolic liaison. The apostolic succession of the UOC-MP consists in the historical fact that its first bishops were ordained by medieval bishops from Constantinople, who had in turn been ordained by Christ’s disciples from ancient Israel. Apostolic succession is crucial for the Orthodox Church, where only bishops can ordain new priests and where the church’s connection to the first Christians is reflected in many ways, including in the clergy’s attire.

Metropolitan Hilarion (his secular name is Grigory Alfeyev), the Russian church’s chief spokesman on questions of schism and unity, accused the patriarch of contributing to the schism by officially “lifting” the excommunication from Ukraine’s most prominent schismatic church leader — the defrocked former bishop Mikhail Denisenko. That clergyman stands to gain most from the “autocephaly” promised to Poroshenko by Patriarch Bartholomew. A hierarchical Orthodox Church is considered to have autocephalous status, as its highest bishop does not report to any higher-ranking bishop. Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko has stated that for Ukraine to be granted autocephaly from Istanbul, this would mean a complete “reformatting” of the country’s religious status quo and the severing of all links to Orthodox Russia and its “demons.”. Most likely, the new “united” church won’t be headed by the UOC MP’s Metropolitan, but by Mikhail Denisenko, who was excommunicated by both the UOC MP and the Russian church back in 1997 and with whom real Orthodox priests can only serve against their will and against the church’s internal rules.

Constantinople’s first dangerous moves

On October 11, 2018, the Constantinople Patriarchate made its first step towards granting autocephaly by repealing its own decision of 1686 that gave the Moscow Patriarch primacy over the Kiev-based Metropolitan. This 17th-century decision reflected the political reality of the merger between the states of Russia and Ukraine and established some order in the matters of church administration. After the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, Moscow gave the Ukrainian church complete independence in financial and administrative matters, but the two churches retained their cherished “spiritual unity.” “Constantinople’s decision is aimed at destroying that unity,” the ROC’s Patriarch Kirill explained. “We can’t accept it. That is why our Holy Synod made the decision to end eucharistic communication with the Constantinople Patriarchate.”

How Moscow “excommunicated” Bartholomew

The end of eucharistic communication means that the priests of the two patriarchates (based in Moscow and Istanbul) won’t be able to hold church services together. It will be maintained as long as the threat of autocephaly continues. The Western mainstream media, however, interpreted this decision by the Russian church as a unilateral aggressive act. The NYT and the British tabloid press wrote that it simply reveals Putin’s “desperation” at not being able to keep Ukraine’s religious life under control.

However, Patriarch Bartholomew seems undeterred by the protests from the Russian faithful and the majority of Ukraine’s believers. Bartholomew said in a recent statement that Russia should just follow the example of Constantinople, which once granted autocephaly to the churches of the Balkan nations. Bartholomew’s ambassadors in Kiev do not shy away from communicating with the self-declared “Patriarch” Filaret (Mikhail Denisenko’s adopted religious name from back when he was the UOC MP’s Metropolitan prior to his excommunication in 1997). For true Orthodox believers, any communication with Denisenko has been forbidden since 1992, the year when he founded his own so-called Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Kiev Patriarchate (UOC-KP). Unfortunately, Denisenko enjoys the full support of Ukrainian President Poroshenko, and recently the US State Department began encouraging Denisenko, by giving its full support to Ukraine’s autocephaly.

The lifting of Denisenko’s excommunication by Patriarch Bartholomew in Istanbul both upset and embittered the Orthodox believers in both Ukraine and Moscow, since Denisenko was excommunicated by a joint decision of the Russian church and the UOC MP in 1997, after a five-year wait for his return to the fold of the mother church. So, by undoing that decision, Constantinople has interfered in the canonical territory of both the Ukrainian and the Russian churches.

The UOC-MP protested, accusing not only Patriarch Bartholomew, but also the Ukrainian state of interfering in the church’s affairs. “We are being forced to get involved in politics. The politicians do not want Christ to run our church; they want to do it themselves,” said Metropolitan Onufriy (Onuphrius), the head of the UOC-MP, in an interview with PravMir, an Orthodox website. “Since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate has been independent. Our church did not ask for autocephaly, because we already have independence. We have our own Synod (church council) and our own church court. Decisions are made by a congress of bishops and priests from all over Ukraine. We have financial and administrative independence, so autocephaly for us will be a limitation, not an expansion of our rights.”

Poroshenko’s premature jubilation

Meanwhile, Ukrainian President Poroshenko did not conceal his jubilation about Constantinople’s moves. “This is a victory of good over evil, light over darkness,” Poroshenko said when the news about the lifting of Denisenko’s excomnmunication came from Istanbul in early October.

Poroshenko said he wanted a “united Orthodox Church” for his country, and he openly pressured Patriarch Bartholomew to provide autocephaly to Kiev during his visits to Istanbul in the spring of 2018 and in November of the same year. Meanwhile, Denisenko said that the provision of autocephaly would mean the immediate dispossession of the UOC MP. “This Russian church (UOC MP) will have to cede control of its church buildings and famous monasteries to the new Ukrainian church, which will be ours,” Denisenko was quoted by Ukrainian media as saying. “These monasteries have been owned by the state since Soviet times, and the state gave them to the Russian church for temporary use. Now the state will appoint our communities of believers as the new guardians of this heritage.” Denisenko also made a visit to the US, where he met Undersecretary of State Wess Mitchell, obtaining from him America’s active support for the creation of a “unified” Ukrainian church.

There is still a chance to prevent the schism from occurring. Poroshenko’s presidential aide, Rostislav Pavlenko, made it clear on Tuesday that the actual “tomos” (a letter from the Constantinople Patriarchate allowing the creation of an autocephalous church) will be delivered only IN RESPONSE to a request from a “unifying convention” that represents all of Ukraine’s Orthodox believers in at least some sort of formal manner. This new convention will have to declare the creation of a new church and elect this church’s official head. Only then will Constantinople be able to give that person the cherished “tomos.”

Since the UOC-MP has made it very clear that it won’t participate in any such convention, the chances of the smooth transition and easy victory over the “Muscovite believers” that Poroshenko wants so badly are quite slim. There are big scandals, big fights, and big disappointments ahead.

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Trump DEMOLISHES Macron; Tweets ‘Make France Great Again’ (Video)

The Duran Quick Take: Episode 16.

Alex Christoforou

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The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris take a quick look at US President Trump’s tweetstorm aimed at French President Macron, who just days ago used the WW1 ceremony in Paris to ridicule and talk down to the US President in front of world leaders.

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Via Zerohedge

Macron’s office has refused to comment on Trump’s claims.

OFFICE OF FRENCH PRESIDENT MACRON SAYS IT REFUSES TO MAKE ANY COMMENT REGARDING TRUMP’S TWEETS CRITICISING FRANCE AND MACRON

* * *

Without directly referencing the rumors, Trump has branded reports that he refused to appear at a cemetery for American soldiers because he didn’t want to get his hair wet as “fake news.” In the tweet, Trump insisted that he wanted the Secret Service to drive him to the speech instead of taking a helicopter, but they refused because of security concerns. He added that he gave a speech at the cemetery the next day in the pouring rain – something that was “little reported”.

Trump’s rampage against Macron continues. The president slammed his French counterpart for his low approval rating, as well as France’s high unemployment. Furthermore, in response to Macron’s “nationalist” snub, Trump pointed out that “there is no more nationalist country” than France..

…before adding a spin on his classic slogan.

Trump’s rage against Macron continues, but this time, the topic is slightly more serious. What could be more serious than questioning the foundation of Post-WWII military alliances, you might ask? The answer is simple – trade!

Trump conceded that while France makes “very good wine” (an interesting claim from Trump, who doesn’t drink), the country “makes it hard for the US to sell its wine into France, and charges very big tariffs”. Meanwhile “The US makes it easy for French wines and charges small tariffs.”

“Not Fair, must change!”

We now await Trump’s order of an investigation into the national security implications of imported French wine.

* * *

President Trump isn’t ready to forgive the “French diss” served up over the weekend by President Emmanuel Macron.

During a ceremony honoring the 100th anniversary of World War I at the Arc de Triomphe on Sunday, French President Emmanuel Macron insulted Trump to his face by launching into a screed about the dangers of toxic “nationalism” and subtly accusing the US of abandoning its “moral values”.

This did not sit well with the US president, who was already facing criticism over his decision to show up late to a ceremony honoring the war dead (the administration blamed it on security concerns though it’s widely suspected that Trump didn’t want to get his hair wet), and Trump has let his displeasure be known in a series of tweets ridiculing Macron’s suggestion that Europe build its own army, saying that France and other European members of NATO would be better served by paying their fair share for NATO while daring them to leave and pay for their own protection.

And in his most abrasive tweet yet mocking the increasingly unpopular Macron’s imperial ambitions (no, really), Trump pointed out that, historically speaking, Europe has been its own worst enemy, and that while Macron wants to defend the Continent from the US, China and Russia, “it was Germany in WWI & WWII,” adding that “they were starting to learn German in Paris before the US came along. Pay for NATO or not!”

Of course, Macron isn’t the only French official calling for the creation of a “European army”. The country’s finance minister advocated for the creation of a Continental army during an interview with Germany’s Handelsblatt – a comment that was derided by the paper’s editors, who pointed out that Germans “weren’t very supportive” of the idea. One wonders why…

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