UOC-MP exaggerates its flock by 10 times, - expert opinion
In the TV program "Detector. Religions" on DetectorUa YouTube channel, religious scholar Dmytro Horyevoy noted that the UOC-MP has been sinning with such "fun mathematics" for several years, religious truth reports.
So, in 2016, two pilgrims left the Svyatogorsk and Pochaev Lavras and met in Kyiv at a procession. The Church officially announced that a total of 80 thousand pilgrims gathered in the capital. But, according to the National Police, only 9 thousand believers passed through the center of Kyiv. The difference between the data of the police and the Moscow Patriarchate is 9 times.
In 2018, when the process of granting Ukraine the Tomos was underway, the UOC-MP stated that 250 thousand people took part in the procession. But the police recorded only 20 thousand pilgrims. The difference between the data is 12.5 times.
In 2019, the UOC-MP has already announced 300 thousand pilgrims. But the police counted only 30 thousand believers. The difference is 10 times.
The current religious procession of the UOC-MP. There were indeed a lot of people, but not 350 thousand. The Moscow church in Ukraine allows such exaggerations in figures not only regarding the number of believers at their meetings, Horyevoy added. He recalled 2017 when he worked as an assistant to people's deputy Viktor Yelensky.
"At that time, the UOC-MP actively opposed bills on changing the name and changing jurisdiction. They then sent us appeals against these documents. And now they officially announced that they had collected and sent Yelensky 60 thousand signatures against Bill No. 4128 initiated by him. I was then given all these appeals from the Department of citizens' appeals of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine. But when I started watching all those appeals, there were exactly 10 times fewer of them – only 6 thousand instead of 60," Horyevoy said.
The latest example is a protest action in the government quarter, organized by the pocket Organization of the UOC-MP "Miryane". They reported about 20 thousand participants. However, according to internal information of the Metropolitan Police, 5 thousand people took part in the event. By the way, the same amount was counted by religious truth from the footage taken by the drone.
"By the way, out of those 5-6 thousand, according to my sources in the Security Service of Ukraine, more than 3.5 thousand came to Kyiv from the regions and about 1.5 thousand are, in fact, residents of the capital," Horyevoy shared.
According to him, the transportation of pilgrims from the regions is centrally organized by dioceses. Buses are rented for this purpose. There is a quota for each church, that is, they provide a certain number of people for the diocese to send several buses.
"Sponsors' money is being allocated to this end. At the same time, people's motivation is completely different. From a real desire to pray to the opportunity, as they say, to go to the capital on Sharik, so to speak, to relax. Because the organizers provide not only the road but also food. I say this because I have repeatedly communicated with people who came to religious processions in Kyiv from the provinces," Horyevoy said.
For the sake of justice, he noted that representatives of the OCU, and earlier the UOC-KP and UAOC, also exaggerated the number of believers at their events, however, this was a maximum of 2 times, and not 10-12 times, as representatives of the MP do.
The religious scholar suggested that the UOC-MP is constantly trying to exaggerate the number of its own flock in order, "first, to frighten the Ukrainian authorities and thus justify its non-compliance with the law."
"And secondly, to play along with the Russians in the opportunity to talk about unity and brotherhood, they say, if so many people go to the Moscow Patriarchate, then this indicates friendly relations between the two peoples who want to share Ukrainian politicians," he added.
"This is a typical narrative that appeared after the annexation of Crimea to somehow try to hide from the indignation of millions of Ukrainians for the dastardly theft of the peninsula. Then we launched this message that in fact, the two peoples are friends, and politicians are to blame for everything. But a true friend will not steal yours at a time when it is most difficult for you," Horyevoy summed up.