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Christianity and Euromaidan: common and distinctive features

03.11.2015, 13:17
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Euromaidan in itself, from a Christian point of view, is neutral. This is a political event, which led to a number of both positive and negative consequences for Ukraine and moreover, both for domestic and foreign policy.

ArticleImages_61302_Havrysh_big_w.jpgThere are only one month left until the second anniversary of Euromaidan, and in a sense we can summarize what happened, and share personal thoughts and experiences. Just note that I do not claim to ultimate truth. Everything set forth below is only my personal reflections and ideas.

I decided to share my thoughts on the Christian portal, as only believers are able to understand what I am writing about, but by no means atheists – true or religious ones. By religious atheists I mean people of different faiths and denominations who need religion as a tool for promotion and assertion of their political views. I will not give any examples, you know them well enough. They are numerous in Ukraine and in Russia they are a dime a dozen.

In my opinion, Euromaidan is a protest in the center of Kyiv in 2013-2014, which led to the dismissal of President Viktor Yanukovych by the Verkhovna Rada and subsequent coming to power of a new, more pro-Western team. The president of Russia Vladimir Putin has lost his nerve, and, relying on the fugitive Yanukovych he annexed Crimea and tried to annex Donbas. The attempt of annexation of Donbas has been a failure due to the war and international pressure. Assessing the action from a neutral perspective, the developments can be presented as follows.

That is, Euromaidan in itself, from a Christian point of view, is neutral. This is a political event, which led to a number of both positive and negative consequences for Ukraine and moreover, both for domestic and foreign policy. But this is politics. From a Christian point of view it's just an event with its pluses and minuses. Like, for example, the separation of Lot from Abraham. The Bible mentions this event, but it does not give a categorical assessment – neither positive nor negative.

In my mind, it is not worth imparting Euromaidan with a sacred meaning, painting it in positive or negative colors. I have heard the first assessment option from the Catholic Church Cardinal, Lubomyr Husar. The second option is the assessment given by Archpriest Andriy Tkachev, who intentionally or mistakenly imparted Euromaidan with anti-Christian meaning, and finally moved to Moscow after its victory.

The matter is that all that happened at Euromaidan was the same as in life.

I do not want to evaluate Euromaidan in terms of logic, common sense, economics, politics, geopolitics etc. In my opinion, it is meaningless to do this now. And it is not me who should be asked about it.

I want to highlight the ten points due to which Euromaidan is close, understandable and dear to me as a Christian. There are three points that I do not like it. As usual, I tried to rely in my reflections on the Bible.

So, what good did I find in Euromaidan as a Christian?

I. Freedom

“For you, brethren, are called to freedom ...” (Gal. 5:13).

I believe that the main reason that brought people to the streets was the policy of the previous government, which is well described in the Bible, 3 Kings 12: 3-15: “And he spoke to them according to the counsel of the young men, saying: My father made your yoke heavy, but I will add to your yoke: My father beat you with whips, but I will beat you with scorpions.” (clause 14).

Yanukovych steadily increased the repressive power of the state machine, tightening all nuts. Police, SSU, tax inspection, checkers of various services and Prosecutor General's Office were his agencies involved in torture, robbery and abuse of their own people. The most egregious example is Vradievka.  Interior Ministry, Security Service of Ukraine, judges, prosecutors had the same goal: to protect the authorities from their people. In return the government agreed to tributes from people in the form of bribes and extortions.

The apogee of this collusion between the owner and supervisors was the decision to brutally beat defenseless students on Maidan on the night of 30 November. In fact, this government demonstrated that we have no right even to peaceful protest, did no right not only to live but to dream of a better life. In fact, Yanukovych put Ukrainians in the position of slaves and suggested them to not only forget about their freedom, but even to leave the very dream of freedom. If you say roughly, he returned to slavery. At the beginning of the XXI century. In the center of Europe.

Now I'm not referring to how Ukraine lives under the current government. This is a topic for another conversation and a difficult one, but in Yanukovych’s tenure is was exactly as I wrote above. And it was what the protesters opposed to.

The man should be a slave to God alone. When a person makes someone else a slave, he claims to be in the place of God – this is pure paganism. It took the Christians many centuries to become aware of this fact. Yanukovych did not understand it at all. People who took to Euromaidan understood it albeit intuitively. And they were right to do so. This is the Christian truth of Euromaidan.

II. Dignity

“So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.” (Genesis 1:27)

Another basic thing which is difficult to understand for people of medieval thinking: God values and loves everyone. And if God Himself loves and values us, the more we have to respect any other person and see him as God's image.

Systematic destruction of human dignity is typical of many regimes. Ramses II, Salmanassar, Tiberius, Nero, Diocletian, Hitler, Stalin. But were not there enough persecutors and enemies of God who trampled on human dignity? The Ukrainian government had been in this bad company for a long time, but Yanukovych was close to them like no one else.

Human Dignity is recognition that man is created by God in His image and likeness. It means seeing in another person a divine spark and discovering God through this recognition. And of course, standing up for human dignity, for dignity, I reiterate, and not for pride, is a God-pleasing and Christian act.

III. Justice

“Therefore all things whatsoever you want to do with you, they do the same thing you are. For this is the Law and the Prophets. "(Matthew 7:12).”

Did Yanukovych, whose family became fabulously rich during his tenure, act towards Ukrainians the way he would like them to act towards him? Did Vladimir Rybak, Mykola Azarov, ministers, heads of departments, who became multimillionaires together with their families, behave this way? For me, the answer is obvious.

Again, I am not now referring to the present-day Ukrainian authorities. This is a topic for another conversation.

But it is clear that people who protested against injustice, acted like Christians. Due to their Christian views and concepts about what is right and what is not, William Wilberforth attained the abolition of slavery, just because slavery does not meet the “golden rule” given by the Lord Jesus Christ.

It was Christians who founded the largest human rights organizations in the world, including, for example, Amnesty International. Why? Because they saw injustice and tried to fix it, i.e. to make a better world, as, in fact, Jesus Christ taught.

Therefore, all who came to Euromaidan in search for justice, were led by most natural Christian motifs. In this respect, Euromaidan was indeed a right movement.

IV. Rotten system

I just want to recall a phrase from my interview of May 14, 2013, which was published on RISU: “My friend Archpriest Andrey Tkachev used to say that the books of the prophets describe not as much ancient Israel as modern Ukraine. “If any of the men of power think that the bishops are smiling at them saying everything is alright, they are mistaken. The hierarchs understand that men of power are destroying the state, supporting unjust prosecutors, courts, police, and encouraging corruption and theft, due to this poverty is spreading. In general, Ukraine is the first in Europe in terms of AIDS rate; one of the first in terms of cancer growth; it is one of the key places of distribution of heroin; a country where children of officials travel by Lamborghini, but the budget has no money for drugs for children with cancer. All this injustice cries out to God. And if we do not come to senses and undertake anything to change the situation, if we do not set up honest prosecution, courts, police, as required by the Bible – I do not know what will happen next (honest Courts, MIA – is the worst for today's power system). When the Almighty judged ancient Israel, He passed them, for example, into the hands of the Assyrians. Even in some of the prophets appealed: God, whom have you sent onto us? If only they were more righteous than us, but you [sent] barbarians from the north to judge Israel?! If barbarians come from the north (You know of whom I am referring to), and Ukraine will cease to exist, it will be just a consequence of what is happening here. I do not call anyone to revolt, but at least we can pray. At least pray and ask God to change the situation.”

I would like to remind that Archpriest Andrey Tkachev, with whom I really was on friendly terms, spoke out very strongly against Yanukovych and everything that happened in the country, emphasizing that everything that happened in Ukraine was reminiscent of the Israelis’ dishonor that was described in the books of the prophets.

I do not know what happened to him in a year, why he changed his mind. I actually lost a lot of friends and brothers in Christ as a result of events that occurred during the year. Out of 10 faithful of UOC (MP) in the picture under my interview five supported Euromaidan, and five others were against. All that happened further on, resembles a bad dream. But let’s talk about it some other time.

I know the system, which was built in Ukraine for many years by all previous regimes got rotten. And so it was doomed to failure. It hovered in the air. One could touch it. Everything that happened with Yanukovych and his so-called family could be called in two words: a feast of Belshazzar.

V. Prayer

“... The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.” (James 5:16).

In the most difficult moments in Euromaidan, many people united in prayer. People knelt before God in unison. Monasteries opened their gates to save persecuted and monks assisted in caring for the wounded. People read the Bible, prayed, repented and turned their aspirations and hopes to God in the most hopeless moments.

Yes, there was a different Euromaidan. There were bottles with the incendiary mix and pavement stones, protesters using firearms against security forces, drunkards, city politicians and crazy cowards. But it changes nothing.

At critical moments in the most difficult and crucial time God intervened and acted invisibly among people. I am sure that there could be more blood, and events could develop in a much more dramatic way. The war could break out not only in Donbas, but also throughout the country.

You may not believe me, but my opinion is this: if it was not for the prayers of thousands of people in Euromaidan, nothing would have happened. All this could be touched it in those rare moments when Heaven intervened and miraculous things took place in Maidan.

VI. Sacrifice

“Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one's life for one's friends…” (John 15:13).

When viewing the footage of the shooting of the Heaven’s Hundred, I am amazed every time by what I see. People are being shot at a close distance, they are being shot with direct fire, but they continue to run up to each other to help pull out their comrade, to protect someone with a shield, which does not save from a bullet, the sister who is bleeding ... and they are falling, falling one by one.

Recall how many people made joint efforts to procure Euromaidan with food, warm clothing, tents, medicines and all the necessities. Eight out of ten of my Kyivan friends, in one way or another helped Euromaidan. It was a massive, altruistic, sincere movement.

In addition, let’s multiply the most powerful volunteer movement in the areas of Europe and by the striving of people to freedom, dignity, justice. What do we get? We get a movement that is very close to a spiritual revival. If we place Jesus Christ in its center, in fact, it becomes a spiritual revival in pure form. No one has added Christ directly yet, but there is a chance...

VII. Volunteers

“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you” (John 15:12).

All the volunteer movements originated in Europe as Christian movements. In the twelfth century in the Netherlands the Beguinae order emerged, which in a sense was the ancestor of volunteers around the world. And then was the avalanche. Particularly successful in volunteering were Dutch, Swiss and British Christians in the XIX - early XX centuries.

Aid to the wounded at Euromaidan, support for refugees and victims of war is a manifestation of love of neighbor, which God expects from us.

Monitoring the thievish officials, countering corruption, street cleaning, and assistance to disabled and needy, helping the sick children. There are numerous volunteer movements which have their roots in Euromaidan. This is a big plus. It can be claimed that Euromaidan created civil society, but just the same one can tell it revealed good in some Samarians.

VIII. Lies of Russia exposed

“You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies” (John 8:44)

Once I was at Maidan with nun Eugenia (Maria) Senchukova, who lives now in Magadan. Then, the Russian opposition delegates were on the stage.

The host and Ukrainian participants of Euromaidan went all out: we are for the fraternal Russian people, we are not against Russia and so on ...

The same evening, mud and outright lies were poured on TV in respect of Euromaidan. They referred to Russophobic sentiment and threats. The same was spoken from the pulpits in Orthodox churches, or said in a whisper in Baptist and other Protestant congregations.

Of course, in our country there were enough foolish and naive people who jumped, saying that they are not “Muscovites”, adding fuel to the fire of hatred in the hearts of Russians kindled by the Kremlin demon. But this is nonsense.

But what did the Russian media, in fact, can only have one explanation: demon possession.

And as much as I hate the lies of the Russian authorities (and the media in Russia is part of the ruling apparatus), to the same extent I like Euromaidan. Inversely proportional response. A certain immune mechanism is inherent in a Christian: if someone blatantly lies, you take side with the slandered.

IX. We left the cemetery

It is not an argument but rather a sensation. When I read about what is happening in the occupied territories of Donbas, what terrorist commanders are doing, I have an impression that people there live in the cemetery: everyone in their graves, from which they do not have the right to rise.

At any moment any person can be arrested and delivered to the dungeons for torture. You disagree with the general line? Torture. You support Ukraine? Torture. You are not a faithful of the Moscow Patriarchate? You are a Catholic? A Baptist? Then you will be persecuted, probably tortured and shot as in Slavyansk.

After all, you do not have connections among the elite of terrorists or their backers in Moscow and you have a worthwhile property? Requisition. Torture. Shooting.

I recently saw a picture of a plundered house of one of Luhansk prosecutors. He and his family were liquidated and drunken terrorists settled in the house. For the first time in my life I felt sorry for the prosecutor. I imagined that this man, although tasteless, arranged his house, placed photos and arranged amenities. Someone loved him, someone came to visit him. But he and his wife were brought out and liquidated by drug addicts with several convictions who were armed to the teeth by the Kremlin Satan.

If you think about it seriously, the smell of dead bodies hangs in the air, and you have a lump in throat feeling. This is the cemetery, not territory.

I did not want to talk about the case of Protestants murdered in Slovyansk. Incidentally, Slovyansk became one of the cities, which the Ukrainian army managed to liberate, and God, in fact, expelled from there “the Orthodox Russian Army” which arranged the shooting of Protestant ministers. What do you think, why?

“If you call Stalin for a long time he will come after you,” that is how Donetsk journalist Denis Kazan articulated what is happening in DPR and LPR.

If you call Satan for a long time, you will live in the cemetery. The spirit of evil brings only carrion.

Of course, if Euromaidan did not take place and Yanukovych remained in power, nothing like this would happen in Ukraine, but eventually it would become the same. Even the leaders of the DPR and LPR terrorist organizations, at least half of them, came from Donbas and the people close to Yanukovych.

What is now happening in Donbas, in a sense confirms the cruelest trends of previous government, that it was laid. So, when Euromaidan rebelled against such power, it was right.

X. Revolution from inside

I know many people who stopped giving bribes after all that happened. “How can I do it, if the Heaven’s Hundred died to defeat corruption,” is the main argument.

I know people who started linking directly the gospel truths to their daily life after Euromaidan. People who have changed the world around, making it fairer, clearer and more correct. Just to be clear, I know very few of such men among the politicians and Ukrainian authorities. They exist. But they are too few.

These changes come from within. This is called spiritual rebirth.

Euromaidan was probably the first of the protest movements that proclaimed the revolution from within. Of course, this is the positive result.

I have listed all the good that the protests of 2013-2014 brought about. Now I will explain what I disliked about Euromaidan.

I will not refer to scammers, dirt, local idiots and other features of any protest, in fact, this is not important. And there were not so many of them, yet the organization was pretty good. Of course, anyone who wanted to see the dirt, saw it. But there are fundamental things which are unacceptable for me as a Christian. Let's talk about them.

1. Waiting for the Messiah, or “Ukraine above all”

“The woman said, “I know that Messiah” (called Christ) “is coming. When he comes, he will explain everything to us.” Then Jesus declared, “I, the one speaking to you—I am he.” (John 4:26)

“Put not your trust in princes, nor in the son of man, in whom there is no help....” (Psalm 145: 3).

The problem of many (thankfully not all) Ukrainians is a constant expectation of the Messiah. It is reflected in the hope that “he will come here and will establish order.” But there was only one Messiah. Another one who will call himself this way, in fact, will be the Antichrist.

Note that after one or two months after the onset of the next pseudo Messiah, a brutal hangover occurs in Ukraine. So it happened with Viktor Yushchenko, Yulia Tymoshenko, Petro Poroshenko, Arseniy Yatsenyuk, Igor Kolomoisky, Oleg Lyashko. So it will be with Mikheil Saakashvili.

Instead of putting all hope in God, living according to the Gospel in union with Him, praying as if everything depends on prayer and working tirelessly as if everything depends on work; rather than changing lives for the better independently, people always hope for pseudo Messiahs.

Euromaidan in this sense was much better than Maidan-2004. They were shouting "Yushchenko!" Here, thank God, people were equally skeptical towards all the leaders.

The only exception is perhaps the slogan “Ukraine is above all.” Ukraine occupies a place of a collective messiah, who is not God and I never will. The deification of the earth is a highest degree of paganism. Do you want to build a successful country? “Christ is Above All” - don't you forget it.

In this sense, a Christian message of Euromaidan about justice, sacrifice and freedom sharply contrasts with the promise of adoration of the native land.

A country and earth is not God. Moreover, God is jealous and tends to take away something important if someone loves this more than Him. It is important to remember this.

Do you want to be shorn of Ukraine? Worship it and place it above God and Christianity. This is a sure way to lose your native land and native country.

You do not like it? Focus on the essentials. Namely, on the construction of the Christian, Gospel-based, just, prosperous society in our God-given land. This will bring much more for Ukraine ...

By the way, the Russians in this sense are much worse than the Ukrainians. Their messiahs – Stalin and Putin – are very similar to the Antichrist. There is no nation in the world that would accept the devil faster than the Russians. They will be the first in line. History recently clearly indicates this. The novel by Fyodor Dostoevsky "The Possessed" obviously tells about modern heroes. Verhovinsky, Shihaleva, Tolkachenko, Virginsy - are none other than Girkin, Boroday, Malofyeyev and other killers for "high ideas.” They were born by the ugly, cruel and sick country with a society that has long been decayed.

2. “Mass torn off, there is no one to believe”

“Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the works themselves” (John 14:11)

As an inevitable consequence of the first point - the frustration and despair that settled in the hearts of people. The poem by Alla Dmitruk “Masks torn off, there is no one to believe” is referring to it.

But there is always someone to believe. And this one is the Lord God Jesus Christ. Just his house should be built not on sand but on rock. At the cornerstone. Then there will be no disappointments.

Incidentally, the lines by Alla Dmitruk that sounded, however, after the Maidan “We will neer be brothers” are not quite correct. Any true Christian (emphasize real) is my brother, regardless of whether he is Russian, Arab, Armenian or Chinese.

We, Ukrainian-Christians will always be brothers with non-Christians. But only with Christians, not with FSS demons, posing for them.

3. Shooting, stones and Molotov cocktails

“Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit.” (1 Peter 3: 9).

This is the most difficult issue. It is difficult, because if my friend or loved one would be killed by someone, I would have to take up arms.

Intellectually I understand that killing 13 employees of the Interior on February 18-20 was clearly unnecessary. I understand that by shooting at Berkut officers from Hotel Ukraine, the protesters provoked only people who had much better guns and equipment, more experience, and had an instruction from current power that let them off the leash.

But it is understood that before the firing at Berkut officers began, dozens of peaceful protesters have been killed, tortured or subjected to cruel torture by the police and “titushkas.” Violence begets violence.

I do not condone those who fired on the police at Euromaidan. It is impossible to justify. In this sense, I am very much surprised by the position of Christians who try to justify non-Christian things.

Here is an example. The Bible clearly states: “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male or female servant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor” (Exodus 20:17) and “Do not move your neighbor’s boundary stone set up by your predecessors in the inheritance you receive in the land the Lord your God is giving you to possess...” (Deuteronomy 19:14), “Cursed is anyone who moves their neighbor’s boundary stone.” Then all the people shall say, “Amen!” (Deuteronomy 27:17). Obviously, this applies to the annexation of the Crimea, too.

I often heard from those who live in Russia and call themselves believing Christians, explanations like “all borders are conditional”, "the Soviet Union gave Crimea to Ukraine occasionally", "the people of Crimea voted" or “Putin had to pick Crimea so that Americans have not placed defense systems there.”

These are excuses for sin. “You shall not covet” - means “do not desire.” “Do not violate your neighbor’s boundary” - means “do not breach the limits.” There is no other way. There is no justification for what happened to Crimea, as there is no justification for firing at police.

Of course, from a Christian perspective, the most correct place in the most dramatic moments is a neutral zone between protesters, where there were a lot of my friends, say, Archpriest George Kovalenko or journalist Vlad Golovin. A Christian could take part in a peaceful protest, to help the wounded, pray, after all. But, I will say frankly, if my loved ones were tortured or killed, I would not be in the neutral zone. I would have used the weapons in response. Therefore, knowing how to act, I cannot, however, say anything to those who did wrong, picking up stones, bottles with incendiary mix and rifles. I would have done the same.

I must say, in my personal opinion, the violence that broke out at Euromaidan and violence that occur in eastern Ukraine, for many reasons have a different mechanism and roots. I will not speak about the difference between the political protests for power shift and those for separation from the country. To draw an analogy with the patient, the first prescription involves only changing a physician for a single body. And the second envisions total amputation of moving limbs. The administrative buildings in the East were often not seized by a patchy crowd of protesters, politicians of local significance, nationalists, but by effective staff of the Russian Main Intelligence Directorate (remember “porebrik”). This is the same as the City Hall on Khreshchatyk would be seized by Seal Devgru United States Navy without insignia.

But let’s leave politics to politicians. Let's talk about the actions of people.

At the beginning, a peaceful rally of students at Euromaidan was dispersed, then came the kidnapping, torture and death of the first protesters in attempt to suppress the upraising. Similar deaths of the police officers, according to official data, happened only three months after the protests, i.e. on February 18. Even if two strange deaths of police officers at their hostels might be attributed to protesters, they still died only at the end of January, when many Euromaidan participants were killed and were committed in response to these killings. Emphasize that until then killed no one person on the opposite side had been killed.

In eastern Ukraine since the early days of protests the killings of unarmed people began, as their civil stance was contrary to that of separatists. For example, the LPR was established only on May 11, the active phase of the ATO began generally on May 15, and two weeks before April 17, Ukrainian MP Volodymyr Rybak, who that day tried to install the state flag of Ukraine on Horlivka City Council building, was brutally murdered.

The difference is who sow the wind, and who reaped the whirlwind. Obviously, on the former authorities sowed the wind, suppressing a peaceful student protest, and killing activists. It reaped the whirlwind - the maximum resentment in society. In LPR and DPR the wind was sown by “Bes’, Girkin”, Batman”, who were directly guided from Russia at the direct instruction / agreement with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Unfortunately, everyone had to reap the storm, including residents of Donbas, who supported the violence, went to rallies, and those who did not support it, and the rest of Ukraine, whose children had to go to fight with separatists and Russian military and died in the war.

“By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles?"(Matthew 7:16). In this sense, everything that happens in Donbas - violence, persecution of Protestants, the lack of any freedom, murder and torture by “MGB” and “NKVD”, looting and pillaging on their part – this is the fruit. (They had enough wit to name their punitive gatherings after organizations which destroyed the record number of Orthodox Christians in the XX century.) These are the rotten fruits of visiting “Bes” (Demon), the Kremlin demons and those local residents who supported them.

The fruits in our country are much better, but, to put it mildly, are far from the ideals of Euromaidan. This is an occasion to reflect on what went wrong and fix errors.

Accusing those who took to Euromaidan with peaceful protest actions of subsequent annexation of Crimea and the war in eastern Ukraine is like blaming the early missionaries that they “provoked” the persecution of Christians in the Roman Empire, i.e. confusing the victim and the executioner.

That is nearly all. I can only add that it is important to truly pray that the best things that were present at Euromaidan would win. And all bad would remain in the past.

Oleh Havrysh