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Orthodox priest enduring persecution at the hands of the Ukrainian Government

Seraphim Hanisch

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When God is first, a nation usually does pretty well. This has been proven through several thousand years of what the Church calls “sacred history”, but even honest secular based surveys of history reveal the same fact. When a nation is aligned in such a way that its leadership keeps an allegiance to God as prime, then the nation usually does well.

The opposite is also true – when a nation or its leadership rebels against God, it usually fails. The same thing also happens when the nation in question puts its own identity first and then “hijacks” God through a twisted version of nationalism in which religious belief is made subject to nationalist views first. When this happens, the appearance of religion in national culture is subtly but powerfully altered, and it eventually falls apart or results in disastrous behavior.

For example, National Socialism, or Naziism as we know it, did NOT expressly forbid religion. Six years into the Nazi era, a survey taken in 1939 revealed the demographic makeup of Germany to be 54% Protestant, 40% Roman Catholic, 3.5% as essentially deistic and only 1.5% atheist. However, the push within the government was for what was called a “positive Christianity” which was a uniquely Nazi form that rejected Christianity’s Jewish origins and portrayed “true Christianity” as a fight against Jews.

We all know what the result of this was.

History repeats itself

In today’s Ukraine we are witnessing a similar situation. That part of Ukraine which favors Western ideals and values, and wants to be away from Russia’s orbit has claimed as its justification its own Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Kyiv Patriarchate as both justification and product of a uniquely Ukrainian national culture that is distinct from Russian culture. And in a tragic error, the Kyiv Patriarchate has identified itself more along the lines of Ukrainian nationalism than as a Church of a nation that itself tries to live under God.

The results are tragic.

The leader of the schismatic Kyiv Patriarchate, Patriarch Philaret shared the stage with a hideous and depraved man, the self-styled “drag queen” whose name is Tom Neuwirth, but appeals to the sexually perverse crowd under the name “Conchita Wurst” (and looks like the worst, too). Philaret blessed the Eurovision event in Saint Sophia’s square, reportedly in exchange for evicting a Ukrainian Autocephalous Church presence at St Michael’s Monastery there. While this may not seem like anything big in the West, the Ukrainian and Russian people alike have a deeply traditional history, but as the vassal or cohort of the nationalist Ukrainian government, the church is betraying Christ by placating to the most vile examples of depravity, and with a blessing!

Violence between the Kyiv group, the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church, which is also schismatic and uncanonical, and the canonical Moscow Patriarchate Church operating in Ukraine has been periodic and sporadic. Moscow-affiliated priests and churches are often besieged, sometimes violently, by Kyiv people and they are aided and abetted in that regard by the Ukrainian government, which is virulently anti-Russian.

Priest Evegeny Molchanov persecuted by the Ukrainian government for doing his job

Political pressure applied in the most heinous way

The latest event concerns a Moscow Patriarchate priest who is targeted for criminal proceedings because he refused to serve a funeral for a young boy whose families are parishioners of the Kyiv Patriarchate. The child’s father reportedly physically attacked the priest for not doing the service.

Again, in the unbelieving and ignorant West, this may seem like a stupid problem. But viewed from the context of the Orthodox Christian Church it is significant. Part of keeping Church order is that one follows the rules, called “canons” of the Church and to violate them is seen not just as a transgression, but something tantamount to a spiritual betrayal of Christ, whom the Church is supposed to serve.

The priest, Father Evgeny Molchanov, followed canonical norms as he is expected to as a priest of the Orthodox Moscow Patriarchate, but he is being treated as a criminal for doing his job. Since the child was not baptized in a canonical Church, the priest of a canonical Church cannot serve a funeral for him.

In a meeting of the Holy Synod of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (Moscow Patriarchate), the canonical Church in the region, these criminal proceedings were addressed. The bishops present demanded a cessation of the case, given that their priest was simply abiding by the canons of the Orthodox Church, and in no way was the priest violating Ukrainian law.

The Synod further explained:

According to the Holy Synod, the criminal proceedings contain signs of persecution on religious grounds, stemming from a political point of view, and are nothing but an attempt to interfere in the internal life of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church. Nationalistic Ukrainians often persecute clergy and parishioners of the canonical Church because they remain faithful to the Orthodox Church within the jurisdiction of the Moscow Patriarchate.

The Synod also drew attention to the fact that, in accordance with international law, state authorities have no right to interfere in the internal affairs of a religious community, and cannot dictate the order and method of a religious community celebrating or not celebrating its rites.

As Fr. Nikolai Danilevich had explained, the Synod reiterated that Church Sacraments and rites can be celebrated exclusively for members of the Church, which requires a true, Orthodox Baptism.

A clear and deliberate setup

It should be clearly understood that there are a great many Kyiv Patriarchate parishes in Ukraine, and so the likelihood here is that this was orchestrated (one of the most heinous ideas imaginable, to use the death of a child as a political or ecclesiastical weapon) to create havoc for the Moscow Church in Zaporozhye, Ukraine, where this happened.

It should be further noted that Zaporozhye is in Eastern Ukraine, and while it is not in the breakaway regions of Donetsk or Lugansk, most of the people in this region are Russian speaking and favor close ties with Russia. So here the government and the Church in the western part of the country are attempting to use the Church as a weapon of the State, to uphold Ukrainian nationhood rather than to serve God.

In the Orthodox Byzantine model of Church and State relationships, the structure is said to be “in symphony”, or symphonia, where the Church and State mutually cooperate in matters concerning the nation involved. But further, the Church rightly acts as the conscience of the State, and properly understood, symphonia between the two notes that the State must listen to the guidance of God through the Church, and not the other way around.

In Ukraine’s present government, this is tragically reversed. The Kyiv Church has all the trappings of an Orthodox Church, and no doubt many, if not most, of the people who are members of it do not think of Ukraine’s nationhood as more important than serving God. At least, let us hope this is still the case. But at the levels where it counts, it is clear that the Church no longer really serves God, it attempts to use him to promote a secular humanist political agenda, and in that sense serves to only betray Christ.

In the Christian world view, there can be nothing more tragic than this.

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Russia’s Lukoil Halts Oil Swaps In Venezuela After U.S. Sanctions

Under the new wide-ranging U.S. sanctions, Venezuela will not be able to import U.S. naphtha which it has typically used to dilute its heavy crude grades.

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Via Oilprice.com


Litasco, the international trading arm of Russia’s second-biggest oil producer Lukoil, stopped its oil swaps deals with Venezuela immediately after the U.S. imposed sanctions on Venezuela’s oil industry and state oil firm PDVSA, Lukoil’s chief executive Vagit Alekperov said at an investment forum in Russia.

Russia, which stands by Nicolas Maduro in the ongoing Venezuelan political crisis, has vowed to defend its interests in Venezuela—including oil interests—within the international law using “all mechanisms available to us.”

Because of Moscow’s support for Maduro, the international community and market analysts are closely watching the relationship of Russian oil companies with Venezuela.

“Litasco does not work with Venezuela. Before the restrictions were imposed, Litasco had operations to deliver oil products and to sell oil. There were swap operations. Today there are none, since the sanctions were imposed,” Lukoil’s Alekperov said at the Russian Investment Forum in the Black Sea resort of Sochi.

Another Russian oil producer, Gazprom Neft, however, does not see major risks for its oil business in Venezuela, the company’s chief executive officer Alexander Dyukov said at the same event.

Gazprom Neft has not supplied and does not supply oil products to Venezuela needed to dilute the thick heavy Venezuelan oil, Dyukov said, noting that the Latin American country hadn’t approached Gazprom Neft for possible supply of oil products for diluents.

Under the new wide-ranging U.S. sanctions, Venezuela will not be able to import U.S. naphtha which it has typically used to dilute its heavy crude grades. Analysts expect that a shortage of diluents could accelerate beginning this month the already steadily declining Venezuelan oil production and exports.

Venezuela’s crude oil production plunged by another 59,000 bpd from December 2018 to stand at just 1.106 million bpd in January 2019, OPEC’s secondary sources figures showed in the cartel’s closely watched Monthly Oil Market Report (MOMR) this week.

By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com

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Germany Pulls Rank on Macron and American Energy Blackmail

Why France’s Macron, at the last minute, attempted to undermine the project by placing stiffer regulations is a curious question.

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Authored by Finian Cunningham via The Strategic Culture Foundation:


It was billed politely as a Franco-German “compromise” when the EU balked at adopting a Gas Directive which would have undermined the Nord Stream 2 project with Russia.

Nevertheless, diplomatic rhetoric aside, Berlin’s blocking last week of a bid by French President Emmanuel Macron to impose tougher regulations on the Nord Stream 2 gas project was without doubt a firm rebuff to Paris.

Macron wanted to give the EU administration in Brussels greater control over the new pipeline running from Russia to Germany. But in the end the so-called “compromise” was a rejection of Macron’s proposal, reaffirming Germany in the lead role of implementing the Nord Stream 2 route, along with Russia.

The $11-billion, 1,200 kilometer pipeline is due to become operational at the end of this year. Stretching from Russian mainland under the Baltic Sea, it will double the natural gas supply from Russia to Germany. The Berlin government and German industry view the project as a vital boost to the country’s ever-robust economy. Gas supplies will also be distributed from Germany to other European states. Consumers stand to gain from lower prices for heating homes and businesses.

Thus Macron’s belated bizarre meddling was rebuffed by Berlin. A rebuff was given too to the stepped-up pressure from Washington for the Nord Stream 2 project to be cancelled. Last week, US ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell and two other American envoys wrote an op-ed for Deutsche Welle in which they accused Russia of trying to use “energy blackmail” over Europe’s geopolitics.

Why France’s Macron, at the last minute, attempted to undermine the project by placing stiffer regulations is a curious question. Those extra regulations if they had been imposed would have potentially made the Russian gas supply more expensive. As it turns out, the project will now go-ahead without onerous restrictions.

In short, Macron and the spoiling tactics of Washington, along with EU states hostile to Russia, Poland and the Baltic countries, have been put in their place by Germany and its assertion of national interests of securing economical and abundant gas supply from Russia. Other EU member states that backed Berlin over Nord Stream 2 were Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, Greece and the Netherlands.

Washington’s claims that Nord Stream 2 would give Russia leverage of Europe’s security have been echoed by Poland and the Baltic states. Poland, and non-EU Ukraine, stand to lose out billions of dollars-worth of transit fees. Such a move, however, is the prerogative of Germany and Russia to find a more economical mode of supply. Besides, what right has Ukraine to make demands on a bilateral matter that is none of its business? Kiev’s previous bad faith over not paying gas bills to Russia disbars it from reasonable opinion.

Another factor is the inherent Russophobia of Polish and Baltic politicians who view everything concerning Russia through a prism of paranoia.

For the Americans, it is obviously a blatant case of seeking to sell their own much more expensive natural gas to Europe’s giant energy market – in place of Russia’s product. Based on objective market figures, Russia is the most competitive supplier to Europe. The Americans are therefore trying to snatch a strategic business through foul means of propaganda and political pressure. Ironically, the US German ambassador Richard Grenell and the other American envoys wrote in their recent oped: “Europe must retain control of its energy security.”

Last month, Grenell threatened German and European firms involved in the construction of Nord Stream 2 that they could face punitive American sanctions in the future. Evidently, it is the US side that is using “blackmail” to coerce others into submission, not Russia.

Back to Macron. What was he up to in his belated spoiling tactics over Nord Stream 2 and in particular the attempted problems being leveled for Germany if the extra regulations had been imposed?

It seems implausible that Macron was suddenly finding a concern for Poland and the Baltic states in their paranoia over alleged Russian invasion.

Was Macron trying to garner favors from the Trump administration? His initial obsequious rapport with Trump has since faded from the early days of Macron’s presidency in 2017. By doing Washington’s bidding to undermine the Nord Stream 2 project was Macron trying to ingratiate himself again?

The contradictions regarding Macron are replete. He is supposed to be a champion of “ecological causes”. A major factor in Germany’s desire for the Nord Stream 2 project is that the increased gas supply will reduce the European powerhouse’s dependence on dirty fuels of coal, oil and nuclear power. By throwing up regulatory barriers, Macron is making it harder for Germany and Europe to move to cleaner sources of energy that the Russian natural gas represents.

Also, if Macron had succeeded in imposing tougher regulations on the Nord Stream 2 project it would have inevitably increased the costs to consumers for gas bills. This is at a time when his government is being assailed by nationwide Yellow Vest protests over soaring living costs, in particular fuel-price hikes.

A possible factor in Macron’s sabotage bid in Germany’s Nord Stream 2 plans was his chagrin over Berlin’s rejection of his much-vaunted reform agenda for the Eurozone bloc within the EU. Despite Macron’s very public amity with Chancellor Angela Merkel, Berlin has continually knocked back the French leader’s ambitions for reform.

It’s hard to discern what are the real objectives of Macron’s reforms. But they seem to constitute a “banker’s charter”. Many eminent German economists have lambasted his plans, which they say will give more taxpayer-funded bailouts to insolvent banks. They say Macron is trying to move the EU further away from the social-market economy than the bloc already has moved.

What Macron, an ex-Rothschild banker, appears to be striving for is a replication of his pro-rich, anti-worker policies that he is imposing on France, and for these policies to be extended across the Eurozone. Berlin is not buying it, realizing such policies will further erode the social fabric. This could be the main reason why Macron tried to use the Nord Stream 2 project as leverage over Berlin.

In the end, Macron and Washington – albeit working for different objectives – were defeated in their attempts to sabotage the emerging energy trade between Germany, Europe and Russia. Nord Stream 2, as with Russia’s Turk Stream to the south of Europe, seems inevitable by sheer force of natural partnership.

On this note, the Hungarian government’s comments this week were apt. Budapest accused some European leaders and the US of “huge hypocrisy” in decrying association with Russia over energy trade. Macron has previously attended an economics forum in St Petersburg, and yet lately has sought to “blackmail” and disrupt Germany over its trade plans with Russia.

As for the Americans, their arrant hypocrisy is beyond words. As well as trying to dictate to Europe about “market principles” and “energy security”, it was reported this week that Washington is similarly demanding Iraq to end its import of natural gas from neighboring Iran.

Iraq is crippled by electricity and power shortages because of the criminal war that the US waged on that country from 2003-2011 which destroyed much of the country’s infrastructure. Iraq critically needs Iranian gas supplies to keep the lights and fans running. Yet, here we have the US now dictating to Iraq to end its lifeline import of Iranian fuel in order to comply with the Trump administration’s sanctions against Tehran. Iraq is furious at the latest bullying interference by Washington in its sovereign affairs.

The hypocrisy of Washington and elitist politicians like Emmanuel Macron has become too much to stomach. Maybe Germany and others are finally realizing who the charlatans are.

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Russia Readies Own Web To Survive Global Internet Shutdown

Russia is simultaneously building a mass censorship system similar to that seen in China.

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Via Zerohedge


Russian authorities and major telecom operators are preparing to disconnect the country from the world wide web as part of an exercise to prepare for future cyber attacks, Russian news agency RosBiznesKonsalting (RBK) reported last week.

The purpose of the exercise is to develop a threat analysis and provide feedback to a proposed law introduced in the Russian Parliament last December.

The draft law, called the Digital Economy National Program, requires Russian internet service providers (ISP) to guarantee the independence of the Russian Internet (Runet) in the event of a foreign attack to sever the country’s internet from the world wide web.

Telecom operators (MegaFon, VimpelCom (Beeline brand), MTS, Rostelecom and others) will have to introduce the “technical means” to re-route all Russian internet traffic to exchange points approved by the Federal Service for Supervision of Communications, Information Technology and Mass Media (Roskomnadzor), Russia’s federal executive body responsible for censorship in media and telecommunications.

Roskomnazor will observe all internet traffic and make sure data between Russian users stays within the country’s borders, and is not re-routed abroad.

The exercise is expected to occur before April 1, as Russian authorities have not given exact dates.

The measures described in the law include Russia constructing its internet system, known as Domain Name System (DNS), so it can operate independently from the rest of the world.

Across the world, 12 companies oversee the root servers for DNS and none are located in Russia. However, there are copies of Russia’s core internet address book inside the country suggesting its internet could keep operating if the US cut it off.

Ultimately, the Russian government will require all domestic traffic to pass through government-controlled routing points. These hubs will filter traffic so that data sent between Russians internet users work seamlessly, but any data to foreign computers would be rejected.

Besides protecting its internet, Russia is simultaneously building a mass censorship system similar to that seen in China.

“What Russia wants to do is to bring those router points that handle data entering or exiting the country within its borders and under its control- so that it can then pull up the drawbridge, as it were, to external traffic if it’s under threat – or if it decides to censor what outside information people can access.

China’s firewall is probably the world’s best known censorship tool and it has become a sophisticated operation. It also polices its router points, using filters and blocks on keywords and certain websites and redirecting web traffic so that computers cannot connect to sites the state does not wish Chinese citizens to see,” said BBC.

The Russian government started preparations for creating its internet several years ago. Russian officials expect 95% of all internet traffic locally by next year.

As for Russia unplugging its internet from the rest of the world for an upcoming training exercise, well, this could potentially anger Washington because it is one less sanction that can keep Moscow contained.

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