They want to stand the day and survive the night: Novinskyi&Co are defending their “spiritual business”

24 March, 14:25
They want to stand the day and survive the night: Novinskyi&Co are defending their “spiritual business” - фото 1
American lawyer and lobbyist Robert Amsterdam recently visited Ukraine. And left behind a trail of loud scandal and total surprise. For his visit, the American lobbyist of the UOC-MP chose the tactics of a “sturm und drang”.

For example, he sent letters to MPs of the Verkhovna Rada with the threads concerning sanctions "according to the Magnitsky Act" (!) and even criminal prosecution in the West for voting in favor of Bill 8731. The deputies were forced to turn to the SBU because of an attempt at intimidation.

After leaving Ukraine, Robert Amsterdam stated that the object of intimidation was him.

However, Robert Amsterdam's methods in Ukraine are surprising not because he threatened people who are walking on the edge of the abyss for the third year. And not because he distorts the very idea of the "Magnitsky Act", suggesting that it can be applied to the victims of the Kremlin. Are we surprised by this absurd? What really was surprising in the story with Amsterdam was his manner of getting the job done. Most of all, he resembled a certain sahib - a "white man" ("too pale, too male...") who came to "civilize" the natives, by forcing them to be baptized, wear shoes, and immediately sell something equal to Manhattan for some bottles of "firewater".

But the surprise passes if you look closely at the "big picture of the world" that he lobbies and defends.

Amsterdam and Partners represent the interests of Vadym Novinsky, a Russian-Ukrainian oligarch who now considers it dangerous for him to be in Ukraine. And he is right, considering the fact of his work on behalf of the Russian Federation in Ukraine.

As it is widely known Novinsky is the "main sponsor" of the UOC MP. And since he excessively invests money in this enterprise, he probably considers himself a co-owner of this “holy business’’. That is why it is quite logical for his lawyers to participate in the protection of the UOC-MP interests in Ukraine, where the fugitive oligarch cannot visit himself without the risk of being accused of treason.

Novinsky was lucky in his way: his hobby (the church) was quite useful for his relations with the Russian government. I will not question the fact that Vadym Vladyslavovych invests money in the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate in response to the call of his Christian soul. But there is no doubt that the guarantees for his business and funds in Russia depend entirely on his influence on Ukrainian affairs. And the ways he uses this influence.

A vivid demonstration of the strategic goals Novinsky used his influence to achieve was Bishop's Sobor in Feofania (27.05.2022), which was called to stop relations between the UOC MP and the MP. Vadym Novinsky (only a deacon of the UOC MP) was, of course, present in the hall, where he took an honorable place among the bishops (this confirms that everything, including the right of honor, in the UOC MP can be bought with money). And he did everything in his power so that the decision to break the UOC with the Moscow Patriarchate was not made.

In particular, eyewitnesses claimed that as soon as the words about "independence from Moscow" were heard, Novinsky started a scandal – he shouted at the bishops (once again – he is only a deacon!), and they, finally, agreed to the decision he needed. I can only repeat my own words: UOC MP bishops can sell anything beginning with the "right of honor" and ending with the fate of several million believers.

This is how the UOC-MP entered the path of lies, and followed it for almost two years: it lies to itself, its believers, and the whole world about "independence", which UOC MP leaders gave up for money and because of fear.

It is interesting for a specialist in the field of communications to observe how this lie is growing. It consumed the minds of many people: ordinary believers who for various reasons do not want to change anything, American TV viewers who just like Putin (they can afford it – no one believes in the Russian army invading Texas). This lie began to be repeated through different mouths, in different languages, at different intellectual and social levels. American professors and journalists, European theologians, and Ukrainian parishioners – all participate in this. But the fact that it was possible to buy expensive lawyers and a university professorship, make a lie massive, and add a worldly gloss to it, it is still a lie.

The only thing that can comfort us in this story: a lie is an expensive girl. It is necessary to feed it and buy new clothes. It constantly needs new partners who will spread it, like an infection. Here, for example, the other day, the former assistant secretary of state under President Donald Trump, a professor of the Catholic University, Robert A. Destro, said that Ukrainians in the field of the rights of believers commit "bullying", that "ordinary believers" fall under collective responsibility, and "persecution to the church", from the professor’s viewpoint, "has nothing to do with the war".

I leave it to Professor Destro (or the channels that quoted him their way) to say what exactly is related and what is not related to the Ukrainian war. Maybe, he can see everything better from Capitol Hill than we do from Pechersk Hill.

Professor Destro has, of course, a reason to reproach the Ukrainian authorities and the state for being careless with the rights of believers. But in this regard, I could remind the Catholic professor of his own words, spoken not about Ukraine, but about the USA: ‘For many years I have been dealing with issues related to the First Amendment. If you look at these cases, you will see that in most of them, religious freedom is lost in disputes with the state’. So, for example, at one time the federal government forced Mormons in Utah to abandon polygamy. And attempts by some states to legislate the right of businesses not to cater weddings of same-sex partners have failed miserably.

Unfortunately, ensuring the balance of rights and freedoms of individual citizens and larger groups is not an easy task. And if war, national interests, and geopolitics intervene in the matter, if the context of long historical processes — colonization and decolonization — should be taken into consideration, then everything becomes even more complicated.

But this is not the case. The lawyers of the UOC MP in reality are quite indifferent to the rights of believers. Their primary target is the survival of the UOC MP and the preservation of its unity with the Moscow Patriarchate. That is what they are paid for. Vadym Novinsky, defending his "spiritual business", is waging his war in Ukraine. And no matter what his considerations are – resentment, faith, fear, or loyalty – this war is being waged in favor of Moscow.

The result of this war, from the point of view of one deacon and his lawyers, should be the preservation of the structure, status, and loyalty to Moscow on the part of the UOC MP in territories that Russia will not be able to occupy. In this way, the entire unoccupied part of Ukraine will remain a "canonical territory" - an ecclesiastical province of the Russian Empire. That will give Putin or any of his successors a reason to think and speak about the "shared spiritual space" and the need to "protect" it. Up to the stage of radioactive ash, if necessary.

Nothing is surprising in the fact that Russian and Ukrainian “defenders” of the Russian Church in Ukraine are expecting Trump`s success and readily quote Trumpists — professors, journalists, lawyers. They are completely frank in their hope that Trump, won the elections, cut military aid to Ukraine, and allow Putin to get what he wants in our country. Here, the lie finally reveals itself completely: "persecution of the church" and "bullying the believers" will disappear from the agenda only when Ukraine as an independent state, and as a national project irrevocably disappears from reality.