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Who produces fake news? Russia, America, or both?

Comparing facts on the ground with the track record of the media in both countries, provides us an answer

Eric Zuesse

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(Washington’s Blog) – The biggest difference between American and Russian news-reporting has been a simple factual issue between the two sides, on what incident started the ‘New Cold War’ between the U.S. and Russia. (The original Cold War was between the U.S. and the Soviet Union and had an ideological, capitalist-versus-communist, alleged basis, but this one doesn’t — so, it’s not really a ‘New Cold War’; it is quite different, but it might be even more deadly.)

The U.S. and its allies say that what started it was in March 2014 when “Russia’s invasion of Ukraine” and “the invasion of Crimea” and Russia’s “conquest of land” by means of that “invasion,” sparked America’s sanctions against Russia and NATO’s military buildup along Russia’s borders; but Russia says that what started it was in February 2014 when Ukraine was victimized, as Russian Television reported it, on 13 March 2014, by:

an armed coup. The Maidan do not appoint these people; rather, it’s the US that does it. It’s enough to look at the newly appointed officials: Parubiy, Gvozd, Nalyvaichenko are all people who followed somebody else’s orders, the orders of the US, not even Europe. They are directly linked to the American intelligence.

In the American account, Ukrainian democracy started when the democratically elected President of Ukraine was overthrown in February 2014; in the Russian account, Ukrainian democracy ended when the democratically elected President of Ukraine was overthrown in February 2014, and only after (and in response to) that, did two regions (Crimea and Donbass, both of which had voted more than 75% for that man) break away from, and refuse to be governed by, the newly installed Ukrainian Government, which was now being imposed upon them.

For nearly three years now, there has been this ‘debate’; but, there has actually been no debate at all, because the media on the two sides, have different alleged ‘historical’ accounts of what the cause of the ‘New Cold War’ is. The people on the two sides disagree about history (was it a coup that had occurred in Ukraine in February 2014, or was it instead a revolution?), and not only about the news. Fake ‘news’ isn’t the only issue here; fake ‘history’ also is.

This is an exceedingly dangerous situation to exist between the two nuclear superpowers, because it goes deeper than mere semantics (‘coup’ or else ‘revolution’) to the real evidence, to reality. One side or the other is — or else both sides are — simply ignoring crucial evidence, in this case. This could produce nuclear Armageddon. There are two mutually contradictory accounts of the history, which have been continuing unchanged for nearly three years already, and the only way that the problem is being dealt with is by there continuing to be no public adjudication of the issue on the basis of the wealth of incontrovertible evidence that exists (including crucial leaked phone-conversations such as this and this) regarding this incredibly important matter.

Was the precipitating event Obama’s ‘coup’ in February 2014, or was it instead Putin’s ‘invasion’ in March 2014? Western media don’t, at all, use the term “coup” to refer to the overthrow of Viktor Yanukovych in February 2014, but Russian media do.

On Saturday, October 28th, the RT (Russian Television) website used the word “coup” to refer to the overthrow and replacement that occurred in February 2014 of Ukraine’s Government. In the U.S. and its allied countries, that replacement of the Ukrainian Government is instead called a “democratic revolution” or “2014 Ukrainian revolution” or “Uprising in Ukraine”, referring to it as a supposedly not-CIA-organized operation (though the Obama Administration had actually started planning it in 2011). The U.S.-backed article “Uprising in Ukraine” described this Governmental overthrow as follows (which provides a good summary of the official U.S.-and-allied ‘news’media’s account of what had happened):

Three acts unfolded on the Maidan. First came the citizen protests. Then, the brutal government crackdown. And finally, after the first guy was killed on Hrushevsky Street, what I call “the Maidan of dignity.” At that point, it had become obvious that the people would never accept Yanukovych again. It was the beginning of his end, and the start of this journey toward Russia that is still playing out.

Once, Ukraine looked at its leaders like Olympic Gods; they know what to do, and how to do it, and we’ll just follow them. But over these last three months, the people have seen that’s not true. Politicians are no better than the rest of us. People want to participate in politics now. They demand equality, the right to assembly, and a fair court system. And they see their leaders for what they are—really old. If you asked Yanukovych or some others about Facebook, they wouldn’t understand what it can do.

I understand that the moment I posted on Facebook, I was no longer acting as a journalist; I was an activist. As a journalist, one must remain independent. On the other hand, as a citizen, I had to act. It is difficult to do nothing as your future is being destroyed right before your eyes. As the crackdown began, I realized I could no longer stand by as an unbiased observer while the government was killing people. It has been a long time coming.

The press gained freedoms under Yanukovych. But it wasn’t until 2013 that a group of us left our jobs at companies owned by oligarchs or political partisans and began to create a truly independent media. In the first months of the presidency of Viktor Yanukovych we formed Stop Censorship! to protest persecution of the press.

Three years later, we founded the first Internet TV channel in the country that operates through donations from our viewers — Hromadske.tv, where I work now as editor in chief. The media showed everything that was happening—helping people to believe that if we all act together, we can accomplish great things.

But the Russian media are different. They are trying to create a parallel reality. They are under Putin’s control, and he is trying to convince Russians that evil has overtaken Kyiv. The Russian people don’t have access to a free Internet, like we do. …

Wikipedia says of that writer:

Using Facebook, Nayem was one of the first activists to urge Ukrainians to gather on Independence Square in Kiev to protest Viktor Yanukovych’s decision to “pause” preparations for signing an association agreement with the European Union.[9] His summons to rally on Facebook on November 21, 2013 were the start of the Euromaidan protests which led to the overthrow of the Yanukovych government.[10]

His main financial backer was actually an American “oligarch” or aristocrat, the lifelong hater of Russians, George Soros, whose Open Society Foundation and other rabidly anti-Russian ‘non-profits’ and ‘charities’, such as the International Renaissance Foundation, had pushed that writer forward to become ultimately a member of Ukraine’s post-coup parliament or “Rada.” But in that article by him, which was published at Soros’s Open Society Foundation site on 4 April 2014, he was identified at that time as: “Mustafa Nayem is a Ukrainian journalist and co-founder of the online channel Hromadske.TV.” In other words: Nayem was very successful as a Soros employee, not only before the “uprising” but after.

Where Nayem had used in his article the phrases “the brutal government crackdown” and “the Maidan of dignity,” I thought of the event that occurred on 25 January 2014, and that was captured so well in a video uploaded that day to the Web by Russian Television, “Ukrainian rioters brutally assaulting police”, in which the terrified police, who are being beaten and worse by America’s hired masked paramilitaries, try to ward off the clubs and brickbats by means of their shields. The assault’s PR agents labelled such realites as “the Maidan of dignity,” and Soros’s Nayem parroted the phrase, for whatever trusting fools (people who don’t ‘need’ evidence) might happen to be reading Soros’s site — which is just about everyone who reads there. Those PR agents had actually been inside the Vatican (institutionally hostile toward Russia); and, in fact, on that very day (January 25th), Vatican Radio had headlined “Ukraine movement a ‘Maidan of dignity’, says bishop”, and Orthodox Churches, including the Russian one, were infuriated. But, anyway: this was the reality behind “the Maidan of dignity.”

Here was a superb article by the tech journalist Carola Frediani on 28 February 2014, the last day of the coup, in which she had explained “How Ukraine’s EuroMaidan Revolution Played Out Online” (because calling it a “coup” that early was too shocking even for her; she apparently still trusted the Western ‘news’media), and reported:

Protestors began to mobilize on Nov. 21, 2013, after the Ukrainian government suspend preparations for the EU-Ukraine Association agreement. They gathered in Independence Square (Maidan) in Kiev and used the hashtags #euromaidan and #евромайдан on Twitter and Facebook. The Facebook posts of Hromadske TV journalist Mustafa Nayem, encouraging Ukranians to gather at Maidan, received more than 1,000 shares in a few hours. At the same time, a number of independent video streams were set up, on platforms like UStream, live broadcasting what was happening on the streets.

The demonstrations swelled on November 24 when ultimately 250,000 people took to Kiev’s streets, demanding reforms as well as Ukraine’s European integration. The first social media pages also started to gain traction: the Euromaidan Facebook page gained 70,000 followers in less than a week. As noted by two NYU researchers in the Washington Post, Facebook was being used much more actively than Twitter, acting as a news hub, as well as coordinating protests by noting the location of demonstrations, providing logistical and support information, distributing flyers for printing and dissemination, giving tips on how to behave and react to police, and uploading videos of police brutality.

A recent independent research study conducted by Kyrylo Galushko and Natalia Zorba from the National Pedagogical University ‘M.P. Drahomanov’ in Kiev confirmed the predominance of Facebook in organizing the protests. According to a poll of 50 Ukrainian social media experts and Internet opinion leaders, conducted between December 2013 and January 2014, Facebook played the largest role in mobilization. Twitter came in second place, followed by the Russian social networking site, Vkontakte, which is the second most popular social networking site in Europe. “Social networking services were the leading communication feature of protesters, instrument of mobilization for taking part in different actions and establishing other forms of social support,” explains Galushko. …

Even she didn’t recognize, at the time, that she was covering a coup. But, on 12 March 2014, was uploaded to the Web this stunningly brilliant 12-minute video showing that it was actually a coup and a very bloody one; and, then, six days later, that video was used as the opening 12 minutes of a 62-minute video which added yet more videos of what had been happening behind-the-scenes there. And, then, on 27 January 2015, a deeper layer of the behind-the-scenes operation was revealed, and I picked up on it and tied it in with the other extremely reliable evidence that was by now available on the Web about the overthrow, and all of it fit into the same picture: that of its having been a U.S. coup. On 8 February 2015, I posted “New Video Evidence of America’s Coup in Ukraine — and What It Means” and linked to this video which had been taken inside the Ukrainian Rada on 20 November 2013, immediately before the “Maidan ‘Revolution’,” in which video a Rada member, Oleg Tsarev, delivered an address to the other members, providing there a detailed description of what had been happening for months already, inside the U.S. Embassy, “tech camps” training far-right paramilitary Ukrainians how to use social media such as Facebook and Twitter in order to raise a mass of ‘democracy’ demonstrators, behind which those paramilitaries would then be able to take over the Ukrainian Government by their guns, and become the country’s new rulers. Tsarev said:

In my role as a representative of the Ukrainian people, activists from the Volya Public Organization turned to me, providing clear evidence that within our country, with support and direct participation of the US Embassy in Kiev, a “TechCamp” project is under way in which preparations are being made for a civil war in Ukraine. The “TechCamp” project prepares specialists for information warfare and for the discrediting of state institutions [the Government] using modern media — potential revolutionaries for organizing protests and the toppling of the Government. This project is overseen by and currently under the responsibility of the US Ambassador to Ukraine, Geoffrey R. Pyatt. After the conversation with the Volya Organization, I learned that they actually succeeded to access facilities in the “TechCamp” project [they had hacked into it] disguised as a team of IT specialists. To their surprise, were found briefings that were held on peculiarities of modern media. American instructors explained there how social networks and Internet technologies can be used for targeted manipulation of public opinion as well as to activate potential protest to provoke violent unrest on the territory of Ukraine — radicalization of the population, and triggering of infighting. American instructors show examples of successful use of social networks to organize protests in Egypt, Tunisia and Libya. “Tech Camp” representatives currently hold conferences throughout Ukraine. A total of five events have been held so far. About 300 people have been trained as operatives, who are now active throughout Ukraine. The last conference took place on 14 and 14 November 2013, in the heart of Kiev, inside the US Embassy!

That article also described Tsarev’s background, and his past and subsequent enormous courage, risking his life and losing his fortune, to protect Ukraine’s democracy — and, then, failing that, to help Donbass to protect itself from the new Ukraine’s ethnic-cleansing operation. I furthermore noted there:

The U.S. Embassy in Kiev had even posted in Spring of 2013 an announcement of its “Tech Camps.” Here is an announcement from the Embassy in Ukraine, on 1 March 2013, titled, “U.S. Embassy Hosted TechCamp Kyiv 2.0 to Build Technological Capacity of Civil Society.” (That Ambassador is now our Ambassador to Russia.)

This new evidence from Tsarev, piled on top of all the other evidence that already proved the assertion by the founder of the “private CIA” firm Stratfor, that the overthrow of Yanukovych was “the most blatant coup in history,” simply cements the reality, that all of the sanctions against Russia, and all of the “me too” statements supporting Obama’s coup and ethnic cleansing in Ukraine, by David Cameron, Stephen Harper, and Obama’s other co-nazis, are abominations, which should be loudly condemned by all decent persons in all countries. The aggressor here is Obama, not Putin; and NATO must end, now: all decent nations should quit it ASAP. (War crimes trials against Obama and his agents should follow. After all: these people are bringing the world closer to a nuclear war than has been the case since 1962, and there is no decent reason for it.)

Subsequently, on 17 September 2016, I traced the origin of the February 2014 coup back farther, to a meeting that had occurred on 23 June 2011 between Wikileaks’ Julian Assange, Google’s Eric Schmidt, and the Hillary Clinton U.S. State Department’s Jared Cohen (now hired by Google), in which Schmidt and Cohen drilled Assange for tips on how to use social media to foment a revolution, and Assange didn’t figure out till later, that they were planning both the Arab Spring operations and the takeover of Ukraine. On 23 October 2014 Assange headlined “Google Is Not What It Seems”, and called Cohen “Google’s ‘director of regime change’.” Assange also explained his disillusionment: “I began [prior to meeting Schmidt] to think of Schmidt as a brilliant but politically hapless Californian tech billionaire who had been exploited by the very U.S. foreign-policy types he had collected to act as translators between himself and official Washington — a West Coast–East Coast illustration of the principal-agent dilemma. I was wrong.”

The great investigative historian Nafeez Ahmed took that insight even farther, in his stunning 22 January 2015 “How the CIA made Google”, which tells, in remarkable detail, the origin of the military-industrial complex’s takeover of the then-emerging digital economy — the internet, Google, the ‘news’media, and, more broadly, of Americans’ emerging fascism-accepting political attitudes and beliefs — the manipulation of the public mind (mass mind-control), starting with the mathematician William Perry’s service as U.S. Secretary of Defense under President Bill Clinton. Whereas the anodyne CIA-editedWikipedia article on Perry presents him by deceptive phrases such as “Perry did everything he could to improve relations with Moscow,” and ignores the deeper reality to the exact contrary (which followed through on President G.H.W. Bush’s lie issued on 24 February 1990), Ahmed recognizes this deeper reality (which I documented at the present link). Perry was doing everything he could — and not just in the former Yugoslavia — to expand America’s empire right up to Russia’s borders.

On 3 January 2015, I submitted to all U.S. newsmedia, for them to consider for possible publication, a news-report that opened:

Czech President Says ‘Only Poorly Informed People’ Don’t Know About Ukraine Coup

Eric Zuesse

The Czech Republic’s President Milos Zeman said, in an interview, in the January 3rd edition of Prague’s daily newspaper Pravo, that Czechs who think of the overthrow of Ukraine’s President Viktor Yanukovych, on 22 February 2014, as having been like Czechoslovakia’s authentically democratic “Velvet Revolution” are seeing it in a profoundly false light, because, (as Russian Television translated his statement into English) “Maidan was not a democratic revolution.” He said that this is the reason why Ukraine now is in a condition of “civil war,” in which the residents of the Donbass region in Ukraine’s southeast have broken away from the Ukrainian Government.

He furthermore said that, “Judging by some of the statements of Prime Minister Yatsenyuk, I think that he is rather a prime minister of war because he does not want a peaceful solution, as recommended by the European Union (EU), but instead prefers to use force.”

He added, by way of contrast to Yatsenyuk, the possibility that Ukraine’s President, Petro Poroshenko “might be a man of peace.” So: though Zeman held out no such hope regarding Yatsenyuk (who was Obama’s choice to lead Ukraine), he did for Poroshenko (who wasn’t Obama’s choice, but who became Ukraine’s President despite Obama’s having wanted Yatsenyuk’s sponsor, the hyper-aggressive Yulia Tymoshenko, to win the May 25th Presidential election, which was held only in Ukraine’s pro-coup northwest, but claimed to possess authority over the entire country). …

That news-report was published at no mainstrean news-site and was rejected by almost all alternative-news sites, but was published at the following six: RINF, washingtonsblog, thepeoplesvoice, countercurrents, blacklistednews, and pontiactribune.

If such news-reports were published in U.S. newsmedia, especially in mainstream ones, then one could reasonably trust U.S. newsmedia, but such news-reports are not published in the U.S. (nor in its allied countries)

Here is terrific journalism (click onto that link) from “The Saker” documenting both with video from Hromadske TV, and with links to that TV operation’s annual financial reports, that the three top funders of Hromadske TV — Nayem’s springboard into Ukraine’s Rada —  were, in order: the Dutch Embassy, the American Embassy, and the International Renaissance Foundation (mis-identified there as the “International Renaissance Fund” — this is one of Soros’s ‘non-profits’, not one of his hedge funds). That report by The Saker was dated 3 August 2014, and afterward the linked-to “Hromadske TV Annual Financial Report, 2013” was taken down, but here it had been web-archived, so that you can see and authenticate it for yourself, showing on its second-to-last page, exactly what the screen-shot by The Saker showed. Interestingly, the “International Renaissance Fund” error was in the original financial report itself. The error wasn’t by The Saker.

That article by The Saker included the 31 July 2014 video of a Ukrainian ‘journalist’ being interviewed on George Soros’s and Mustafa Nayem’s and the U.S. Government’s and the Dutch Government’s Ukrainian TV station, explaining why “You need to kill 1.5 million people in Donbass” — arguing for ethnic cleansing there, of the genocidal type. The U.S.-imposed Ukrainian regime did attempt that, and such ethnic-cleansing started being Ukrainian Government policy as soon as the new Government was installed. On 19 November 2014, I headlined “Meet Ukraine’s Master Mass-Murderer: Dmitriy Yarosh”and noted that Yarosh had been the person who not only was very active in the ethnic-cleansing program, but he had trained the paramilitaries who had executed the overthrow, and I linked to a video of Yarosh being interviewed as a hero on the new regime’s television. I also wrote:

As Yarosh said this past March in an interview with Newsweek, he has “been training paramilitary troops for almost 25 years,” and his “divisions are constantly growing all over Ukraine, but over 10,000 people for sure.” More recently, in October, a pro-Government Ukrainian site interviewed Yarosh and he mentioned specifically a “DUC,” or Volunteer Ukrainian Corps of fighters. He was then asked “How many soldiers in DUC?” and he answered, “About seven thousand men.” These would be his real military force, by far the biggest private army in Ukraine. So, in his private files are everyone’s individual background and skill-level as a “paramilitary,” or far-right mercenary, and they all respect and obey him as the top man. He is the indispensable person in this new Ukraine. Yarosh’s teams carry out the most violent operations for the CIA in Ukraine (including the coup).

Already by the time of 9 December 2014, Russian Television headlined “’They’ll try to shut you down’: Meeting Assange & the non-stop ‘War on RT’”, and RT’s chief Margarita Simonyan covered 5 specific ways in which Assange was predicting that the U.S. would try to shut down RT in America:

1. Pressuring of our employees.

2. Hordes of Western media outlets attempting to discredit our work.

3. Flogging the ‘cash cow’

4. Explicit threats to revoke our broadcasting license.

5. Pressuring independent experts who appear on RT.

Assange there scored a 100% accuracy-of-prediction; and, so, on 1 October 2017, RT headlined “‘If RT leaves the US, American media might stop broadcasting in Russia’ – RT editor-in-chief”.

On 28 October 2017, RT bannered “Budapest vetoes Ukraine-NATO summit, says Kiev’s new law a ‘stab in the back’”, and reported that some of the formerly Russia-allied European nations were turning away from the U.S. (NATO & EU) alliance. The core of that news-report was the statement from Hungary’s Foreign Minister saying “Hungary cannot support Ukraine’s integration aspirations, so it vetoed the NATO-Ukraine summit in December.” RT’s article linked to the Hungarian Government video of that person saying this. However, my Web-search of that statement “Hungary cannot support Ukraine’s integration aspirations, so it vetoed the NATO-Ukraine summit in December” brings up only the RT news-report, none other. A Web-search for that Minister’s name, Peter Szijjarto, also fails to bring it up. Perhaps his statement isn’t suitable for inclusion in “All the News That’s Fit to Print”. Apparently, it just doesn’t fit; so, it won’t be printed. Like none of this has been published in America.

On 22 August 2014, Steven Starr, who is one of the world’s leading experts on what would be the results of a nuclear war between the U.S. and Russia, headlined “’The Russian Aggression Prevention Act’ (RAPA): A Direct Path to Nuclear War with Russia”, and he opened:

The “Russian Aggression Prevention Act”, introduced to Congress by U.S. Senator Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), will set the US on a path towards direct military conflict with Russia in Ukraine.

Any US-Russian war is likely to quickly escalate into a nuclear war, since neither the US nor Russia would be willing to admit defeat, both have many thousands of nuclear weapons ready for instant use, and both rely upon Counterforce military doctrine that tasks their military, in the event of war, to preemptively destroy the nuclear forces of the enemy.

RAPA provides de facto NATO membership for Ukraine, Georgia, and Moldova via RAPA

The Russian Aggression Prevention Act, or RAPA, “Provides major non-NATO ally status for Ukraine, Georgia, and Moldova for purposes of the transfer or possible transfer of defense articles or defense services.” Major non-NATO ally status would for practical purposes give NATO membership to these nations, as it would allow the US to move large amounts of military equipment and forces to them without the need for approval of other NATO member states. Thus RAPA would effectively bypass long-standing German opposition to the US request to make Ukraine and Georgia part of NATO.

Fortunately, Corker’s bill turned out to have ended on 1 May 2014 when it was sent to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and failed to be voted on even there. Corker is that extreme a neoconservative. No one in the U.S. Government can be more fascist than that. He was even more of a fascist than U.S. President Barack Obama was.

On 28 October 2017, the AP bannered “Corker: Possible 2020 run against Trump not ruled out” and reported that Senator Corker, who had earlier announced that he won’t be running for another term in the Senate, is now leaving open the possibility of a primary campaign to block Donald Trump from again receiving his Party’s nomination. The article said: “And any impeachment of Trump isn’t realistic today and is not going to happen, Corked added.” So: maybe the reason why he wanted not to be a Senator after 2018, is that he had decided he wants to be free during 2019 and 2020 to campaign for the Republican Presidential nomination for himself. The AP noted that, “Early this month, Corker charged that Trump had turned the White House into an ‘adult day care center’ and was setting the U.S. ‘on the path to World War III’.” But, of course, Corker was actually describing himself there (regardless of whether he was also describing the current President), and no one in the U.S. ‘news’media was pointing out this important fact about him. Corker was already running for the White House. He seemed already to be aiming to be the Republican version of Hillary Clinton who would win what she had failed to win: the White House.

This article, like every article that I do, is being sent free-of-charge for publication, to all U.S. newsmedia that cover international issues; but, all of the major newsmedia, and almost all of the “alternative news” sites, have refused to publish any among the many hundreds like this that I have submitted to them in the past. Perhaps the reason for this is the same reason why the U.S. ‘news’media never admitted that they had entirely uncritically reported to the American people, in stenographic fashion, really as propaganda instead of as a democratic newsmedia, the lies that George W. Bush and his Administration asserted in 2002 and 2003 regarding ‘Saddam’s weapons of mass destruction’ etc., as if it those lies weren’t clear, even at that time the lies were made. How does a ‘news’media which has a record of deceiving its public into invasions, ever admit that this is what they long have been doing, and continue even now to do? Any of them that would publish the present article would be making a fundamental change-of-course, to becoming finally part of the press in a democracy, no longer part of the propaganda-operation in a dictatorship. Can a leopard change its spots? We’ll see, by web-searching the title here, “Does Russia Produce ‘Fake News’? Or Does America? Or Both?” and seeing where this article has been published — and where it hasn’t.

Perhaps the people who run America’s ‘news’ media don’t care whether they are participants in bringing about nuclear Armageddon. We’ll soon see.

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Must we pay attention to every piece of Russian propaganda? “…Ukrainian democracy started when the democratically elected President of Ukraine was overthrown in February 2014…” And what happened with the “democratically elected” President of Ukraine? Why is he wanted on charges of corruption, murder, and treason in Ukraine and is still hiding in Russia? “…two regions (Crimea and Donbass, both of which had voted more than 75% for that man)…” So why didn’t Yanukovych go to Crimea or Donbass? Could it be because he didn’t have the support of the people in those two regions, even the ones that have… Read more »

Latest

Massacre in Crimea kills dozens, many in critical condition

According to preliminary information, the incident was caused by a gas explosion at a college facility in Kerch, Crimea.

The Duran

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“We are clarifying the information at the moment. Preliminary figures are 50 injured and 10 dead. Eight ambulance crews are working at the site and air medical services are involved,” the press-service for the Crimean Ministry of Health stated.

Medics announced that at least 50 people were injured in the explosion in Kerch and 25 have already been taken to local hospital with moderate wounds, according to Sputnik.

Local news outlets reported that earlier in the day, students at the college heard a blast and windows of the building were shattered.

Putin Orders that Assistance Be Provided to Victims of Blast in Kerch – Kremlin Spokesman

“The president has instructed the Ministry of Health and the rescue services to take emergency measures to assist victims of this explosion, if necessary, to ensure the urgent transportation of seriously wounded patients to leading medical institutions of Russia, whether in Moscow or other cities,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitriy Peskov said.

The president also expressed his condolences to all those affected by the tragic incident.

Manhunt Underway in Kerch as FSB Specialists Investigate Site of Explosion – National Anti-Terrorist Committee

The site of the blast that rocked a city college in Kerch is being examined by FSB bomb disposal experts and law enforcement agencies are searching for clues that might lead to the arrest of the perpetrators, the National Anti Terrorism Committee said in a statement.

“Acting on orders from the head of the NAC’s local headquarters, FSB, Interior Ministry, Russian Guards and Emergency Ministry units have arrived at the site. The territory around the college has been cordoned off and the people inside the building evacuated… Mine-disposal experts are working at the site and law enforcement specialists are investigating,” the statement said.

Terrorist Act Considered as Possible Cause of Blast in Kerch – Kremlin Spokesman

“The tragic news that comes from Kerch. Explosion. The president was informed … The data on those killed and the number of injured is constantly updated,” Peskov told reporters.

“[The version of a terrorist attack] is being considered,” he said.

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Russian Orthodox Church officially breaks ties with Constantinople

Biggest separation in almost 1,000 years as world’s largest Orthodox Church cuts communion with Constantinople over legitimizing schismatics.

Seraphim Hanisch

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The schism between the Russian Orthodox Church and the Ecumenical Patriarchate became official today, October 15, 2018, as the Russian Holy Synod reviewed the recent granting of communion to two schismatic groups in Ukraine, pursuant to Constantinople’s intent to grant autocephaly (full self-rule, or independence) to the agglomeration of these groups.

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RT reported that the Synod ruled that any further clerical relations with Constantinople are impossible, given the current conditions. Metropolitan Hilarion Alfeyev told journalists today about the breach in relations:

“A decision about the full break of relations with the Constantinople Patriarchate has been taken at a Synod meeting” that is currently been held in the Belarusian capital of Minsk, Hilarion said, as cited by TASS.

The move comes days after the Synod of the Constantinople Patriarchate decided to eventually grant the so-called autocephaly to the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, thus making the clerical organization, which earlier enjoyed a broad autonomy within the Moscow Patriarchate, fully independent.

The Moscow Patriarchate also said that it would not abide by any decisions taken by Constantinople and related to the status of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church. “All these decisions are unlawful and canonically void,” Hilarion said, adding that “the Russian Orthodox Church does not recognize these decisions and will not follow them.”

At the same time, the Russian Church expressed its hope that “a common sense will prevail” and Constantinople will change its decision. However, it still accused the Ecumenical Patriarch of initiating the “schism.”

The marks the most significant split in the Orthodox Church since the Great Schism of 1054, in which Rome excommunicated Constantinople, a breach between the Roman Catholics and Orthodox which has persisted ever since then, becoming hardened and embittered after the Roman Catholic armies sacked Constantinople during the Fourth Crusade in 1204.

Many other local Orthodox Churches expressed support for the Moscow Patriarchate’s position prior to today’s announcement, but the break in relations between these two churches does not have any known affect on local churches who hold communion with both Moscow and the Ecumenical Patriarchate at this time.

The website Orthochristian.com ran the entire statement of the Holy Synod regarding this situation. We offer a brief summary of statements here, taken from that source and patriarcha.ru, adding emphasis.

With deepest pain, the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church received the message of the Patriarchate of Constantinople published on October 11, 2018 about the decisions adopted by the Holy Synod of the Patriarchate of Constantinople: on the confirmation of the intention to “grant autocephaly to the Ukrainian Church”; on the opening of the “stavropegion” of the Patriarch of Constantinople in Kiev; on the “restoration in the hierarchal or priestly rank” of the leaders of the Ukrainian schism and their followers and the “return of their faithful to Church communion”; and on the “cancellation of the action” of the conciliar charter of the Patriarchate of Constantinople in 1686 concerning the transfer of the Kiev Metropolia to the Moscow Patriarchate

The Synod of the Church of Constantinople made these decisions unilaterally, ignoring the calls of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church and the entirety of the Russian Orthodox Church, as well as the fraternal Local Orthodox Churches, and their primates and bishops for pan-Orthodox discussion of the issue.

Entering into communion with those who have departed into schism, let alone those who have been excommunicated from the Church, is tantamount to departing into schism and is severely condemned by the canons of the holy Church: “If any one of the bishops, presbyters, or deacons, or any of the clergy shall be found communicating with excommunicated persons, let him also be excommunicated, as one who brings confusion on the order of the Church” (Canon 2 of the Council of Antioch; Canon 10, 11 of the Holy Apostles).

The decision of the Patriarchate of Constantinople on the “restoration” of the canonical status and the reception into communion of the former Metropolitan Philaret Denisenko, excommunicated from the Church, ignores a number of successive decisions of the Bishops’ Councils of the Russian Orthodox Church, the legitimacy of which are beyond doubt.

By the decision of the Bishops’ Council of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church in Kharkov of May 27, 1992, Metropolitan Philaret (Denisenko) was removed from the Kiev Cathedra and was banned from the clergy for not fulfilling the oath made by him before the cross and the Gospel at the previous Bishops’ Council of the Russian Orthodox Church.

By its ruling of June 11,1992, the Bishops’ Council of the Russian Orthodox Church, confirmed the decision of the Kharkov Council and expelled Philaret Denisenko from his rank, depriving him of every degree of the priesthood on the following charges: “Cruel and arrogant attitude to the subordinate clergy, dictatorialness, and intimidation (Tit. 1:7-8; Canon 27 of the Holy Apostles); introducing temptation among the faithful by his behavior and personal life (Matthew 18:7; Canon 3 of the First Ecumenical Council, Canon 5 of the Sixth Ecumenical Council); oath-breaking (Canon 25 of the Holy Apostles); public slander and blasphemy against the Bishops’ Council (Canon 6 of the Second Ecumenical Council); the celebration of clerical functions, including ordinations, in a state of suspension (Canon 28 of the Holy Apostles); the perpetration of a schism in the Church (Canon 15 of the First-Second Council).” All ordinations performed by Philaret in a suspended state since May 27, 1992, and the punishments imposed by him, were declared invalid.

Despite repeated calls for repentance, after the deprivation of his hierarchal rank Philaret Denisenko continued his schismatic activity, including within the bounds of other Local Churches. By the ruling of the Bishops’ Council of the Russian Orthodox Church of 1997, he was given over to anathema.

The aforesaid decisions were recognized by all the Local Orthodox Churches, including the Church of Constantinople.

… Now, after more than two decades, the Patriarchate of Constantinople has changed its position for political reasons.

… St. Nikodemos of the Holy Mountain, in his Pedalion, which is an authoritative source of ecclesiastical-canonical law of the Church of Constantinople, interprets Canon 9 of the Fourth Ecumenical Council, rejecting the false opinion on the right of Constantinople to consider appeals from other Churches: “The Primate of Constantinople does not have the right to act in the dioceses and provinces of other Patriarchs, and this rule did not give him the right to take appeals on any matter in the Ecumenical Church… “ Listing a whole range of arguments in favor of this interpretation, referring to the practice of the decisions of the Ecumenical Councils, St. Nikodemos concludes: “At present … the Primate of Constantinople is the first, the only, and the last judge over the metropolitans subordinate to him—but not over those who are subject to the rest of the Patriarchs. For, as we said, the last and universal judge of all the Patriarchs is the Ecumenical Council and no one else.” It follows from the above that the Synod of the Church of Constantinople does not have canonical rights to withdraw judicial decisions rendered by the Bishops’ Council of the Russian Orthodox Church.

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Patriarch Bartholomew lifts anathemas on schismatics in Ukraine (VIDEO)

Most of the Orthodox world is in strong opposition to this move by Patriarch Bartholomew, whose motivations seem not to be of Christ.

Seraphim Hanisch

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The biggest news in the Eastern Orthodox world in recent times occurred on Thursday, October 11, 2018. The Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, Bartholomew I, lifted the anathemas against two schismatic Ukrainian Churches and their leaders, paving the way to the creation of a fully independent Ukrainian national Orthodox Church.

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This announcement was given in English and is shown here in video with the textual transcript following:

“Presided by His All Holiness the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, the Holy and Sacred Synod convened for its regular session from October 9 to 11, 2018 in order to examine and discuss items on its agenda. The Holy Synod discussed in particular and at length, the ecclesiastical mater of Ukraine in the presence of His Excellency Archbishop Daniel of Pamphilon and His Grace Bishp Ilarion of Edmonon, Patriarchal Exarchs to Ukraine, and following extensive deliberations decreed (emphasis added):

First, to renew the decision already made, that the Ecumenical Patriarchate proceed to the granting of autocephaly to the Church of Ukraine;

Second, to re-establish at this moment the stavropegion of the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Kiev—one of its many starvorpegion in Ukraine that existed there always;

Third, to accept and review the petitions of appeal of Philaret Denisenko and Makary Maletich and their followers who found themselves in schism not for dogmatic reasons, in accordance with the canonical prerogatives of the Patriarchate of Constantinople to receive such petitions by hierarchs and other clergy of all the autocephalous Churches. Thus, the above mentioned have been canonically reinstated to their hierarchical or priestly rank, and their faithful have been restored to communion with the Church;

Fourth, to revoke the legal binding of the Synodal letter of the year 1686, issued for the circumstances of that time, which granted the right through economia to the Patriarch of Moscow to ordain the Metropolitan of Kiev elected by the clergy-laity assembly of his eparchy, who would commemorate the Ecumenical Patriarch as the first hierarch at any celebration, proclaiming and affirming his canonical dependence to the Mother Church of Constantinople;

Fifth, to appeal to all sides involved that they avoid appropriation of churches, monasteries, and other properties as well as every other act of violence and retaliation so that he peace and love of Christ may prevail.”

There are a few things that must be said about what this declaration is not before we get to the matter of what the points of actually are. The point of reference is the strict letter of the text above itself.

  • This is not a granting of autocephaly (full independent self-rule status) like the fourteen universally canonical Orthodox jurisdictions in the world. However, it is a huge step towards this status.
  • As far as Constantinople is concerned, Filaret Denisenko, the leader and “Patriarch” of the “Kyiv Patriarchate of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church” and Makary, the “Metropolitan” of the “Ukrainian Orthodox Autocephalous Church”, and all their faithful are now restored to communion. The statement says that this applies to “The Church” which may be trying to state that these two men (and all the faithful that they lead), are now in communion with the entirety of canonical Orthodoxy, but more likely, this may be a carefully worded statement to say they now are in communion with Constantinople alone.
  • There is an official call for the cessation of the violence directed against the Moscow Patriarchate parishes and communities, who are the only canonically recognized Orthodox Church in Ukraine, and who are also the largest by far in that country. The Kyiv Patriarchate and Uniate (Roman oriented) Greek Catholics in Ukraine have gone on record for seizing MP church properties, often by force, with neo-Nazi sympathizers and other radical Ukrainian nationalists. So this official call to cease the violence is now a matter of public record.

However, the reaction has been far less civil than the clergy wished for.

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko: “Expressing his view of the Moscow Patriarchate, Poroshenko added, “This is a great victory of the God-loving Ukrainian people over the Moscow demons, the victory of Good over Evil, the victory of Light over Darkness.”’

Perhaps this is the reason Metropolitan Onuphry of Ukraine (exarch under the Moscow Patriarchate) has been labeled an enemy of Ukraine and is now receiving death threats. Very civil.

Poroshenko’s statement is all the more bizarre, considering that it has been Ukrainian ultra-nationalists that have been violently attacking Moscow – related parishes in Ukraine. This has been corroborated by news sources eager to pin the blame on Russia, such as the U.K. Guardian.

The Union of Orthodox Journalists, based in Kiev and supportive of the Moscow Patriarchate, has been under intense cyber attack since October 11th, when the EP’s announcement was issued.

Ukrainian Orthodox Church (Moscow Patriarchate) Chancellor, Metropolitan Anthony of Boryspil and Brovary: “What happened at the Synod in Istanbul yesterday shocked the entire Orthodox world. It seems the Patriarchate of Constantinople is consciously embarking on a path of schism in world Orthodoxy. Patriarch Bartholomew ignored the calls of the Local Churches to convene a meeting of the primates to work out a common and conciliar solution to the Ukrainian Church issue and unilaterally made very serious but erroneous decisions. I hope the Orthodox world will give this action an objective evaluation… Having received the schismatics into communion, Patriarch Bartholomew did not make them canonical, but has himself embarked on the path of schism. The schismatics remain schismatics. They did not receive any autocephaly or tomos. It seems they have lost even that independence, although non-canonical, that they had and which they always emphasized.”

Metropolitan Rostislav of the Czech Lands and Slovakia:“The Orthodox world recognizes the only canonical primate of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church—His Beatitude Metropolitan Onuphry of Kiev and All Ukraine. This fact was repeatedly mentioned and confirmed by the primate of the Great Church of Christ His Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew on behalf of all present at the Synaxis of the Primates of the Local Orthodox Churches that was held in Chambésy (Switzerland) from January 21 to 27, 2016. Therefore, any attempt to legalize the Ukrainian schismatics by the state authorities should be strongly condemned by all the primates of the Local Orthodox Churches.

Patriarch Irinej of Serbia wrote two letters to the Ecumenical Patriarch, advocating that the provision of a new autocephaly is possible only with the consent of all local Orthodox Churches. According to Sedmitza.ru (Translation by Pravoslavie.ru),

“In these letters, it was very clearly stated that the granting of autocephaly cannot be the prerogative the Patriarchate of Constantinople alone, that new autocephalies must be created only with the consent of all the Local Orthodox Churches, as the Holy Synod of Antioch also said in its recent statement.”

Pat. Irinej also warned the Patriarchate of Constantinople against making such major decisions unilaterally, because “it will not bring harmony and peace to the Ukrainian land, but, on the contrary, will cause new divisions and new schisms.”

The Holy Synod of Antioch, the oldest Orthodox Church, and actually the very first place where the disciples of Christ were even called “Christians” weighed in on the issue as well and they had several things to say:

“The fathers examined the general Orthodox situation. They stressed that the Church of Antioch expresses her deep worries about the attempts to change the boundaries of the Orthodox Churches through a new reading of history. She considers that resorting to a unilateral reading of history does not serve Orthodox unity. It rather contributes to the fueling of the dissensions and quarrels within the one Church. Thus, the Church of Antioch refuses the principle of establishing parallel jurisdictions within the canonical boundaries of the Patriarchates and the autocephalous Churches as a way to solve conflicts, or as a de facto situation in the Orthodox world.

To summarize, this move by Constantinople is not being warmly received by many, many people. Most of the local Churches are on record giving their reaction to this process. In brief, here is the list most of the Local Churches and a one or two word summary of their reactions.

Patriarchate of Georgia: Unilateral action is wrong; Constantinople and Moscow must cooperate and find a solution together.

Patriarchate of Jerusalem: recognizes Ukraine as a canonical territory of the Russian Orthodox Church alone, as do all other local Churches

Patriarchate of Alexandria and all Africa: The Church does not bow to politicians. Moscow-led church is the only canonical Church in Ukraine.

Archbishop of Cyprus: Decries the Ukrainian situation but offered to mediate a discussion between Moscow and Constantinople

Bulgarian Patriarchate: Interference of the State in Church affairs leads to serious and negative consequences for both.

Polish Orthodox Church: Metropolitan Sawa called for a council of Orthodox ruling hierarchs to discuss this situation.

Estonian Orthodox Church: Condemns Constantinople’s actions in Ukraine.

Greek Archdiocese of America: Supports Constantinople’s actions in Ukraine.

The Orthodox Church of Greece (Metropolitan Seraphim of Piraeus quoted): “Schismatics, as we know, are not the Church, and communion with them is forbidden by the Divine and holy canons and the Apostolic and Ecumenical Councils. Why then this persistence of the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew in recognizing schismatics as an autocephalous Church? To provoke schisms and divisions in the one universal and Apostolic Church of Christ?”

Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia (ROCOR): Ceased commemoration of Constantinople, ceased concelebration with Constantinople.

This issue has also rocked the secular geopolitical world.

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