On the October 12, 2018, self-proclaimed “Patriarch” Philaret visited “Holy Transfiguration Cathedral” in the Ternopil region of western Ukraine, to “bless” a massive “icon” of Saint George. However, the the “icon” in question is not a true icon, but a sacrilegious monument to the sin of ethnophyletism and Nazism, which has more in common with demonic symbolism than Orthodox iconography.
The mural depicts Saint George, who instead of trampling a dragon—a symbol of satan—beneath his horse, spears a majestic two-headed eagle—a symbol of not only divinely anointed monarchs and the Russian Empire, but also of the Eastern Roman Empire, and many other Orthodox cultures, including the Ecumenical Patriarchate!.1
In the background, the burning ruins of Donetsk Sergei Prokofiev International Airport is depicted on the top right. The western-backed Maidan revolution (executed with the help of neo-Nazis) is depicted on the top left. Several Nazi symbols can be seen, including the Wolfsangel, used by the SS, and the black and red flag of the “Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists/Ukrainian Insurgent Army”, which during WW2 fought alongside Hitler’s Army and SS. Assault rifles are also displayed.
There are many troubling features of this demonic mural: nationalist, Nazi, demonic, satanic, are descriptions that come to mind.
Neo-nazism, ultra-nationalism, and ethophylitism
The mural demonstrates both neo-nazism and the heresy of ethnophyletism (religious nationalism, i.e., forming and defining one’s religion based on ethno-nationalistic political grounds). Here are words taken from the official website of their schismatic Ternopil diocese that plainly reveal that “church’s” openly nationalist orientation. Philaret is quoted as saying, among other things, that:
“Due to the existence of the UOC (Kiev Patriarchate), and other patriotically-minded Christian churches, we have today an independent state. And if we have only one Ukrainian Orthodox Church, then Russia will not have any access to Ukraine. And then our state will establish and strengthen itself, and will be a fortress of peace in Eastern Ukraine”
Taking into consideration that the mural features the ruins of Donetsk airport ablaze, it’s clear that Philaret’s peace involves war against other Ukrainians. We cannot forget that he himself argued Donbass should “expiate its guilt by torment and blood”.
Now if we ignore Philaret’s propaganda against the canonical church, which the latter refutes, it must be said that Philaret admits that his, and other schismatic churches, are “patriotic-based churches”, in other words, nationalist, ethnophyletist.
It is perfectly natural for churches to have patriots within them, who love their homeland and culture peacefully and productively. The difference between patriotism and ethnophyletism, however, is that the latter bases an entire church on nationalism. This is a heresy.
It is also worth noting, that when he spoke of “other Christian, patriotically-attuned churches”, he is likely referring to the Uniates and Baptists, since the only other church in Ukraine that claims to be Orthodox (apart from the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church) is the schismatic “Ukrainian Autocephalic Orthodox Church”. It is worth noting that recently Philaret’s secretary, Zorya, whom many call the “Red Eminence”2, recently stated that a tomos from Constantinople is needed that specifically gives them the possibility to conduct ecumenical dialog with Protestants and Catholics, whom he, along with Uniate leader Shevchuk, believe are historically “isolated” from the “Ukrainian Church”.
One thing is certain: the Kiev Patriarchate and its allies are indeed nationalist Churches. Furthermore, the official site says that next to Saint George the painter portrayed “The Revolution of Dignity” (the Maidan coup) and Ukrainian soldiers, and that the idea of the “icon” is: “God is with Us—Ukraine is behind us.”
Now, we will examine this mural, and prove it is not a product of natural love for one’s country, but of radical Neo-Nazi extremism.
First of all, aside from the troubling religious aspects of the mural, which with its rifles, fires, and leering faces more by far resembles an anti-religious placard of the soviet era than it does an Orthodox fresco, it must first be said this mural has nothing to do with religion, but everything to do with politics. The most evil manifestations of human politics can be seen here, in the form of Neo-Nazism.
Before we discuss the elephant in the room, let it be said that the devil is literally in the details.
A detail which could be easily missed, but was already noted by a Greek website3, is the presence of a Wolfsangel, a neo-Nazi hate symbol4 that is banned in Germany5 for its Nazi connections. Variations of it were used by a multitude of Nazi German divisions in WW2; the version depicted on the mural was used by the 2nd SS Panzer Division “Das Reich”.
In modern Ukraine, this symbol has been associated with a variety of far-right organizations, such as the Social-National Party of Ukraine, as well as Azov Battalion, a national guard regiment directly connected by many organizations including the UN to war crimes in Ukraine—war crimes including targeting civilians in mass lootings6, torture78, killings, and rape.
Some Azov battalion leaders attempt to deny this symbol is connected to Nazism. Their denial, however, is about as transparent as a “white supremacist” claiming the swastika tattooed on his head is all about Hinduism and not Nazism9.
There have been reports of the wolfsangle being used by satanic organizations; moreover, the majority of the Azov Battalion members are known to be neo-pagans, who erected a pagan idol of Perun in Mariupol, in addition to being Neo-Nazis10. This includes their leader Andriy Biletsky.
Also noticeable to the left and right of the image, seen more clearly in this version below, are several Kalashnikov-type rifles displayed in communist-style revolutionary fashion, painted within small gold diamonds.
In the background of the mural, on the left side, one can clearly see black and red flags (compare with blood and soil) belonging to the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists/Ukrainian Insurgent Army. This is no less of a Nazi symbol then a swastika.
The Ukrainian Nazi leader Stepan Bandera allied with Hitler, and his followers committed genocides against Poles, Jews, Russians, Ukrainians, and basically anyone who did not agree with them.
The origin of these groups and their hate would require its own research; however, suffice to say that seed of ethnic hatred was planted in Western Ukraine by the Austro-Hungarian Empire, and returned after the 2014 Maidan coup as a bloody revenant to terrorize Ukraine and its bordering counties.
In a terrible joining together of the old Uniate terror, with ideologies taken right out of Nazi Germany, Bandera and the many Uniates within his organization wished to create an “ethnically pure” Ukraine, in which only the Ukrainians they deemed worthy would remain alive.
Bandera’s organization was founded in Vienna in 1929—ironically, the former capital of the old Austro-Hungarian Empire which persecuted Orthodox Christians from Serbia to Romania and Ukraine. In one of their propaganda tracts, their military arm listed not only “terror”, but essentially brainwashing as one of their methods11.
A simple web search for “neo-Nazi march in Ukraine” will provide plenty of examples of radicals marching in the streets with this black and red flag, as well as swastikas, and portraits of Bandera.
One of the best videos however, to draw the correlation between armed radicalism, these flags, this mural, and the Uniates is this video, in which a Uniate “Priest” conducts a memorial service with these black and red flags seen in the background.
A microcosm of ethnophyletism can be seen here. Close to the end, the priest says the traditional Carpathian greeting “Slava Isusu Khristu” (Glory to Jesus Christ) but received an anemic response from just a few who knew to reply properly “Slava Na Viki” (Glory forever).
But the moment he tried nationalist and Nazi slogans, such as “Slava Ukraini—Heroyam Slava” (Glory to Ukraine—Glory to the Heroes), he got a very loud and proud response. He finished three times with the slogan “Slava Natsii—Smert Voroham” (Glory to the Nation—Death to the Enemies) and the people began to chant as if possessed, “Death to Enemies!” as their gunfire rang out over the mountains.
This slogan of “death to enemies” can also be heard loud and proud at Philaret’s nationalist march, which was thinly veiled as a cross procession, as seen in this video with English subtitles by the Union of Orthodox Journalists. As shown in these videos, those who attend these groups are far more concerned with nationalism than religion, and religion is included merely to “sanctify” their nationalism.
Pax Ucrainca? The Maidan and the Ruins of Donetsk Airport.
Please turn your attention to the structure at the top right of this prototype version of the same mural; the apparent ruins of the once beautiful and very modern Donetsk Airport can be seen, with both a Ukrainian flag, as well as the Black and Red Nazi flag atop it, while the Maidan is shown on the left side with the same flags.
Look below at this picture of the war-ruined Donetsk airport, with a Ukrainian flag barely visible at the top, taken on October 12, 2014. Philaret “blessed” this mural on that same date, only four years later. The structure in the mural is clearly the control tower of the airport.
This ruin is a microcosm of the war that the Maidan coup released upon Ukraine, and Philaret is glorifying it all—they call the coup a “revolution of dignity”, and they call the war “peace”. This is not peace for Ukrainians—this is death. The God-fearing Ukrainian people deserve better than this. Hañba (shame)!
This western backed coup allowed the current political faction to violently take power in Kiev.
This includes a President—Petro Poroshenko, who explained in this video that “they” will “win” this war, by way of the fact that “their” children are in schools, and the children of Donbass will be in bomb shelters.
Is this bloodshed, this fratricide, something anyone should celebrate? Well this is certainly what false Patriarch Philaret believes, as he himself explained that:
“We should not think that the population of Donbass is innocent in these sufferings. It is guilty! And it must expiate its guilt by torment and blood,”
It is worth noting here that Philaret is a hypocrite; he himself was born in Donbass, the supposedly “Pro-Russian” region of Eastern Ukraine, whereas Metropolitan Onuphry of Kiev, the leader of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (Moscow Patriarchate) was born in Western Ukraine, the supposedly “Pro-Ukrainian” region.
This exposes the conflict for what it is—this is not Russians vs. Ukrainians. This is not a Ukrainian Church vs. a Russian Church, this is Orthodoxy vs satanism. This is the Orthodox Ukrainians (the members of the canonical church) being persecuted by devil-worshiping fascists.
This is a matter of light vs. darkness, the snake vs the eagle, Holy Rus’ vs. Nazism, and God vs. the Devil in the hearts of men, as Dostoyevsky would say.
The Canonical Church preaches love and unity, and as Metropolitan Onuphry himself explained. It is not trying to build either a Russian or Ukrainian world, but the World of God, and is trying to unite all Ukrainians into one family in Christ.13 To this end, no political symbols were seen at the cross procession of the canonical church, while any event or organization led by Philaret always features more flags than icons. And now, even his icons contain flags.
“Saint” Victoria Nuland of the Maidan?
It is worth noting, in the bottom left of the mural, there is a woman holding a small tray, this is unconfirmed, but it could very well symbolize Victoria Nuland, the US envoy who attended the Maidan, and famously handed out cookies to revolutionaries. Nuland is relevant because she had great trouble trying to explain (or rather deny) the presence of Neo-Nazis in Ukraine, and at the Maidan.
American congressmen from California Dana Rohrabacher pushed for clarity, saying:
“I saw those pictures and I also saw a lot of people throwing fire bombs at groups of policemen. There were people shooting into the ranks of police…The question is: were there neo-Nazi groups involved?”
Nuland was forced to admit: “There were many colors of Ukraine involved including very ugly colors.”
Children and priests were bombed in the streets, churches and monasteries burned and seized… Ugly colors indeed.
Saint George as a “Ukrainian Insurgent”?
In addition to disgusting neo-Nazism, we have seen the ugly colors of ethnophyletism displayed proudly in this satanic mural. This icon is an insult to the holy name of Saint George the Victorious. The Saint, whose slaying of the Dragon is a symbol of God victorious over the devil, has been appropriated as a sacrilegious symbol of the Neo-Nazi movement, of ethnic hatred.
Specifically, on their website, the Kiev Patriarchate in Ternopil says:
“George the Victorious is the patron saint of fighters for the independence of Ukraine.14”
I was not aware of that patronage ever being mentioned in the synaxarion or in the tradition of the Holy Orthodox Church. What is mentioned, and expressly condemned, is ethnophyletism—which is when nationalism and ethnic hatred invades the ecclesiastical world—like for example, painting an “icon” which features Nazi symbols, a bombed airport, a political revolution, and assault rifles, and then appropriates Saint George as the patron of this cause.
This brings us to the final grievous offense of this monument to devilry—the desecration of the two-headed eagle.
Two Headed Eagle
Now finally we come to the elephant, or rather, eagle, in the room. The Saint George is trampling the two-headed eagle. In this context, it is clear this eagle represents Russia, but does it only represent Russia?
The two-headed eagle was first a symbol of the Eastern Roman (Byzantine) Empire, before it was adopted by Russia, and this eagle continues to be used by both Greeks, Serbs (also Montenegro, other Yugoslav peoples, etc.) Romanians, and countless other cultures and peoples including even Germans and Austro-Hungarians.
Sometimes the two heads are said to represent the Church and the State, some say they represent rule over the East and West. The eagle has also been used in many church decorations, and in layman’s terms you could call it a pan-Orthodox mascot. But to monarchists it’s a sacred symbol of God-anointed emperor’s and kings.
In the case of Philaret’s mural, it is certainly only there for nationalist reasons, and it creates a dilemma for him. The two headed eagle is also a cherished symbol of the Ecumenical Patriarchate itself.
It is shown on a flag precious to the Church of Greece; this flag has meaning equally deep to Greeks and Serbs as it does to Russians—and Philaret’s mural is desecrating it. What will Philaret’s new masters think of this? We don’t need to speculate—a Greek website has already expressed outrage, noting many of the details we already discussed. Here are some excerpts translated to English from Greek:
“The two-headed eagle being killed by the fake image of Saint George, is the most recognizable symbol of Orthodox Christianity today (beside the cross). The eagle holds a cross and sphere, symbolling peaceful synergy between the Church and state. This flag was historically used by the [Byzantine and Russian Empires]. Today it is the official flag of the Ecumenical Patriarchate… the Greek Orthodox Church, and Mount Athos. In a public outburst of contempt for the Orthodox Faith, and disdain against the many countries that use the eagle in their flags, Philaret “blessed” this image…one day after Bartholomew lifted the anathema against him.”15
The website also noted the presence of the Neo-Nazi symbols.
Philaret’s and his nationalist church’s hatred is so strong and has blinded their logic to the point where they commission a blasphemous mural, insulting all the Orthodox people who have cherished this symbol for millennia, including the Ecumenical Patriarchate, at a time when they desperately need support for their non-canonical activities. As long as they can trample Russia, they don’t care if it also tramples Mount Athos, Greece, Serbia, Romania, etc.
A Soviet Mural?
The inspiration for the killing of this most esteemed eagle could perhaps be the propaganda poster from 1917 of B. Shippih, who depicted the two-headed eagle as a monster the Ukrainian people rose up against.
Ironically, the photo features Cossack Hetman Bogdan Khmelnitsky, who reunited Ukraine and Russia in 1654, and whose very statue, treasured by both Russian people and Ukrainian nationalists, was originally built as a gift with the blessing of the Russian tsar. This is the irony of the Ukrainian national question.
The mural, however, has a lot in common with another era of Russian history, which Ukrainian nationalism also owes a great deal to, though they would never admit it—that is, the Soviet era.
The mural actually has a great deal in common with Soviet imagery glorifying the victory of the modern people over religion—as the eagle was both a symbol of the monarch, and the one who anointed him—God, and therefore the Church.
Destruction of the two-headed eagle was featured in many Soviet images and propaganda. Take for example this communist video, which shows the eagle as a monarchist monster struck down by the lightning storm of a people’s rebellion, similar in context to both this mural and the above-shown Ukrainian nationalist propaganda poster from the same era as the Bolshevik revolution.
It is very ironic how much the Ukrainian ultra-nationalists owe to the Soviet Union they hate so much.
And it must be asked, just why do they hate the Bolsheviks so much? It's understandable why Orthodox Christians take issue with them; but it was the communists who achieved what centuries of Uniatism and Austro-Hungarian occupation failed to do.
The communists were the first to completely rule all of what is modern Ukraine, and then for the first time, either intentionally or accidently, complete the Austro-Hungarian project by totally dividing the Ukrainian people from the Russians along nationalistic lines.
The first lasting formation of a state called “Ukraine” was implemented by the communists. So if it was anyone it was the communists who created the modern Ukrainian state. Historical formations of “Ukraine” have little in common with the current borders, which are entirely the result of the Soviet Union forming the Ukrainian SSR.
Neither Kievan Rus’, the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, the Cossack Hetmanate, the Russian Empire, the Austro-Hungarian Empire, or the short-lived Ukrainian states of the early 1920s contained all of the lands of modern Ukraine—lands which were only united fully by the Communists.
The Russian Empire came the closest, but still never ruled all of Galicia, which was under Austro-Hungarian/Uniate occupation and was only united to Ukraine post-WW2 by Stalin himself. Below is a small map of the historical evolution of Ukrainian territories, a subject worth its own study.
To be clear, this does not deny the existence of Ukrainians throughout this history. However they were historically, even by those who wanted (political) independence from the tsar of Moscow such as Philip Orlyk16, never seen as a truly foreign and different nation, but rather as equal and part of the Rus' nation—what is called Holy Rus’. Cossack hero Bogdan Khmelnitsky also held this belief.17
Patriarch of Alexandria Theodoros on Holy Rus’ and the Two-Headed Eagle
Holy Rus’ or Holy Russia is not about nationalism. It’s an ancient Orthodox spiritual concept. It was a term even used by Greek Saints, like Saint Maximus the Hagiorite18 to describe the old lands of Kievan Rus’—ancient Russia; they did not even call Byzantium “Holy”—but Rus’ was given this title. This term is still used today. Just this year, the Patriarch of Alexandria during his visit to Moscow,19 while concelebrating with Patriarch Kirill (with President Putin in attendance) used this term.
Most amazingly, after Patriarch Theodore of Alexandria said (in Greek) that, “Rus’ always was, is, and will be Holy Russia,” he immediately afterward noted the beautiful presence of the two-headed eagle of Byzantium inside the Moscow Kremlin.
How almost prophetic this was! It was as if Providence ordained that His Beatitude should speak of this on the Baptism of Rus’, to remind people of the truth of Holy Russia’ and its inheritance from the Byzantine Empire. It was truly marvelous how he spoke of Holy Rus’, and one sentence later connected it to the two-headed eagle. Let it be remembered that Holy Rus’, which the Bolsheviks tried to destroy, is not some peculiar form of Russian nationalism. It means that Orthodoxy defines the Rus’ peoples, transending nationalism.
Holy Rus’ is the spiritual heritage of the Russian, Ukrainian, and Belarusian people, enshrined in the sacred words and prophecies of Saint Lavrenty of Chernigov.
“Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus—together we are Holy Rus'”
The Orthodox view of these peoples, if you dig deeply, reveals that their unity is sacred, blessed by God, and indivisible. This is why this mural desecrates the two-headed eagle—because deep down, its creators despise Holy Rus’ and her saints, from Vladimir the Great to Lavrenty of Chernigov—who reposed in the 1950s and warned about the future events in Ukraine, which are now coming to pass.
This is the true reason why they commissioned this mural. We must realize that not only does it glorify Nazism, but it is blasphemous, and an insult to all Orthodox peoples from Constantine the Great to our current days.
This is no “icon” but a satanic, demonic mural, inspired by the same deceitful serpent that Saint George so rightly tramples. They commissioned it out of Nazism, ethnophyletism, and ultra-nationalism, which have totally blinded them.
Moreover, this not just an isolated event by some fringe group; it represents the entire spirit of the schismatics, as their leader, Philaret himself blessed it. In this same church, by the way, according to a Greek website, there is a painting of Philaret himself among some Saints (and also schismatics); the website noted how sinfully arrogant this all was.20
This is Philaret and his minions’ message to the world. Their “icons” are not about God, but about Nazism, where they depict the war and bloodshed they so love. If Orthodoxy and God Himself disagrees with their views, they will make their own sect, and worship their own idols.
This is why they desecrate Orthodoxy in this mural; this is why they desecrate the two-headed eagle of Byzantium and Holy Rus’—because Orthodoxy has always affirmed the truth—Ukrainians aren’t just our friends—they’re our family! Together, we are Holy Rus’—what God has put together, let no man put asunder!