RFE/RL Poland, Belarus, and Ukraine Report Vol. 2, No. 25, 4 July 2000

A Survey of Developments in Poland, Belarus, and Ukraine by the Regional Specialists of RFE/RL's Newsline Team.

NOTE TO READERS: The next issue of the "RFE/RL Poland, Belarus, and Ukraine Report" will appear on 25 July 2000.


MOSCOW AND KYIV PATRIARCHATES WAGE INFORMATION WAR. Believers and priests of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (Moscow Patriarchate) in Crimea sought to halt a 23-25 June trip to Crimea by Metropolitan Filaret, head of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (Kyiv Patriarchate), Interfax reported on 26 June, quoting sources from the Simferopol and Crimean Eparchy of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (Moscow Patriarchate). Following an appeal by Simferopol and Crimean Archbishop Lazar (Moscow Patriarchate), hundreds of people blocked all roads leading from Simferopol airport to Sevastopol. Filaret had to sneak into Sevastopol across fields.

The Simferopol and Crimean Eparchy (Moscow Patriarchate) told Interfax that its clergy and congregation also prevented Filaret from visiting Khersones (near Sevastopol), the place of baptism of St. Vladimir, the Kievan Rus's first Christian grand prince (980-1015). According to the eparchy, tensions in Sevastopol were running so high that Filaret had to forfeit the main purpose of his trip--a visit to the Institute of the Ukrainian Navy, where he was expected to bless new graduates.

Ukraine's Moscow and Kyiv Patriarchates have remained at loggerheads since 1992, when Filaret and part of the clergy split from Ukraine's pro-Moscow Orthodox Church to form an independent Ukrainian Orthodox Church. The Moscow Patriarchate anathematized Filaret and branded its followers "schismatics" (Russian: raskolniki).

The press service of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (Kyiv Patriarchate) denied that Filaret's trip to Crimea had been ruined by the rival patriarchate. The press service admitted that an attempt to prevent Filaret from entering Crimea was made at Simferopol airport, but it said that "the Republic of Crimea's authorities did everything possible to prevent any confrontation on religious grounds." The press service listed a number of meetings and religious services held by Filaret during his three-day stay in Crimea, underscoring that there were no "conflicts or clashes between believers."

MORE THAN HALF OF UKRAINIANS CAN BUY ONLY FOOD. A poll conducted by the GfK USM polling agency in May among 1,000 people between the ages of 15 and 59 showed that 20 percent of respondents do not have enough money to buy foodstuffs and are forced to live permanently on credit, Interfax reported on 27 June. Fifty-six percent said they can buy only food, while 22 percent admitted that they are able to buy food and clothes. Only 2 percent said they can afford other consumer goods "without any problems."

"Life can be bad, a regime can be bad, but a constitution, to my mind, cannot be bad. A constitution is [only] a declaration, while all [the rest] depends on people. It is possible to write down anything you want in a constitution, but it is life that decides which provisions of this law are realistic and which remain on paper only." -- A passerby in Kyiv, quoted by RFE/RL's Ukrainian Service on 28 June.

RFE/RL Poland, Belarus, and Ukraine Report is prepared by Jan Maksymiuk on the basis of a variety of sources including reporting by "RFE/RL Newsline" and RFE/RL's broadcast services. It is distributed every Tuesday.