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Russia denies the right to exist of Belarus and the Belarusian people

Pavel Latushka: Deputy Head of the United Transitional Cabinet of Belarus, Head of the National Anti-Crisis Management, Ambassador

On March 28, the World Russian People's Council, at its extraordinary congress chaired by Patriarch Kirill of Moscow, declared nothing less than a "holy war" on Ukraine, that is "jihad" in other words.

Think about it, this was not done by some terrorists from Islamist groups in the Middle East; this was done by a meeting under the leadership of the leader of one of the largest Christian churches.

The extraordinary congress of the World Russian People's Council approved a document called the Order, which was developed back in November last year in Moscow.

"From a spiritual and moral point of view, a special military operation is a Holy War, in which Russia and its people, defending the single spiritual space of Holy Rus', fulfill the mission of 'holding', protecting the world from the onslaught of globalism and the victory of the West, which has fallen into Satanism," the document says.

The Council's order also denies the existence of Ukrainians and Belarusians as independent peoples. The authors of the Order consider the destruction of the independence of Ukraine and Belarus to be the key conditions for the survival and successful development of Russia and the so-called "Russian world" in the 21st century.

"The reunification of the Russian people should become one of the priorities of Russian foreign policy. Russia should return to the doctrine of the trinity of the Russian people, which has existed for more than three centuries, according to which the Russian people consist of Great Russians, Little Russians and Belarusians, who are branches (sub-ethnicities) of one people, and the concept of 'Russian' covers all the Eastern Slavs - the descendants of historical Rus'," participants of the congress say. In simple terms: Belarusians are not an independent people; they are simply Russians, and Belarus, accordingly, is part of historical Russia.

The so-called concept of a triune people which stresses the lack of independence of Belarusians and Ukrainians took its final theoretical shape back in the distant 19th century. And at the beginning of the 20th century, the most reactionary and nationalist political circles of the Russian Empire adopted it. These political forces went down in history under the general name "Black Hundreds."

Their political doctrine was characterized by such postulates as: criticism of democracy and commitment to autocratic rule, militant conservatism, anti-Semitism, extreme nationalism, as well as the idea of a strong imperial state suppressing individual freedom.

In fact, we are seeing history repeating itself. Should the church set itself political goals to justify wars, massacres, and oppression of other religions and peoples? The question is rhetorical. In turn, history has confirmed more than once that when the church began to engage in the above, it always ended badly, first of all, for the church itself.

This is how it was, for example, in the 20th century. The Russian "Black Hundreds" were also actively supported by part of the leadership of the then Russian Orthodox Church. However, it all ended with the February and then the so-called October revolution. Following society's rejection of the "Black Hundred" ideas, repressions eventually overtook the Orthodox Church, part of whose leadership actively supported these ideas.

Unfortunately, the current leadership of the Russian Orthodox Church, of which today the Orthodox Church in Belarus is a canonical part, is increasingly drawn into the implementation of the military-political goals of the Kremlin and the Lukashenko regime, justifying military aggression, violence, and denying the right to independent existence of individual countries and peoples. Thus, the leadership of the church itself, with its own hands, undermines public trust in it.

We know that in Belarus, many ordinary Orthodox Christians, that is, the laity, the church flock, as well as representatives of the priesthood and monasticism, do not support the reactionary ideas of the current top leadership of the Russian Orthodox Church. Many priests and deacons gave anti-war sermons after the start of the full-scale invasion of Russian troops in Ukraine; many took the side of Belarusian society in 2020, which was massively repressed by the Lukashenko regime.

Nevertheless, the leadership of the Orthodox Church of Belarus officially fraternizes and cooperates in every possible way with the Lukashenko regime and also supports Russia's aggression against Ukraine. Some justify this behavior by saying that the church leadership is doing this for the benefit of the church itself, for the sake of its salvation and prosperity. However, instead of trying to raise the importance of the church in the eyes of society, such actions are likely to undermine its moral authority, turning more and more people against it.

I would like to appeal to the leadership of the Belarusian Orthodox Church with a request to publicly refuse to support dubious political statements coming from Moscow or, at least, to distance themselves from them as much as possible. This also applies to cooperation with the repressive regime of Lukashenka, which has lost the trust of Belarusians.

By supporting ideas that deny the independence of Belarusians as a people with their culture, language, history, and centuries-old traditions, and by endorsing violence, mass repressions, and war, the church goes against the interests of Belarusians and undermines trust in itself as an institution that shapes the moral guidelines of society.

Let's not forget that the church is primarily composed of believers; it is a community of Orthodox Christians. Moreover, the majority of Orthodox Belarusians are against the war, in favor of democratic development, and desire to live in an independent state.




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