Fourth Kharkiv International Security Forum “Fight for Minds in the Time of Hybrid Wars”

The Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Moscow Patriarchate (UOCMP), a proxy of the Russian Orthodox Church (ROC), has been actively used as an instrument of Russian hybrid influence in Ukraine.

Head of Hybrid Warfare Analytical Group at Ukraine Crisis Media Center Oleksandra Tsekhanovska presented UCMC’s expertise on this topic at the Fourth Kharkiv International Security Forum “Fight for Minds in the Time of Hybrid Wars” on December 3.

In her speech, “How the Kremlin Uses UOCMP for Undermining Vaccination in Ukraine”, Oleksandra delved into the links between UOCMP and ROC, the church’s activities aimed at undermining vaccination in Ukraine with a focus on the dissemination of disinformation and organizing protests.

She stressed, “The public rhetoric of the ROC, same as the UOCMP’s, is in line with the Kremlin, Russian propaganda media, and Russian top officials. It is also in line with the key narratives that the Kremlin’s system of propaganda and disinformation has promoted about Ukraine for years.”

According to Tsekhanovska, the influence of UOCMP in Ukraine is unquestionable: it has had the most number of parishes and owned more media than any other orthodox church.

The difference between the ROC and UOCMP’s approaches to vaccination is quite noticeable: while ROC encourages vaccination in every way, the UOCMP denies the necessity for it. Moreover, it takes active steps to undermine the campaign.

“In all target societies, the destabilization of which is beneficial for the Kremlin, the vaccination campaign is being discredited, and only in Russia are religious institutions working to encourage vaccination,” underlined the expert.

The Fourth Kharkiv International Security Forum was traditionally supported by the Kharkiv Office of the Konrad Adenauer Foundation and Maidan Monitoring Information Center.