Moldovan Victims Are “Unworthy Victims” Since Russia Cannot Be Blamed for the Attacks
In a landmark 1979 study entitled The Political Economy of Human Rights: The Washington Connection and Third World Fascism, Noam Chomsky and Edward S. Herman laid out the concept of “worthy” versus “unworthy” victims by which the U.S. and Western media, in line with the priorities of their own governments, broadcast the plight of victims of Communist governments and other foes of the West while ignoring the plight of people subjected to human rights atrocities by U.S. or Western-backed governments.
The mainstream media in the U.S. today are filled with stories about the alleged victims of Russian atrocities; however, they are completely silent about the victims of Ukrainian military and government atrocities.
These victims include Orthodox Christians in Ukraine, where nationalists are seizing Orthodox churches and monasteries and attacking priests and bishops.
Sadly, these latter actions have begun to inspire copy-cats in neighboring Moldova, where ultra-nationalist elements, emboldened by the situation in Ukraine, are attacking the Orthodox Church of Moldova, with the impression that they are being supported in Washington.
Traditionally, Moldova is oriented toward Romania. Although plans for one-step Romanianization of the country in the early 1990s after the collapse of the USSR failed, Bucharest’s influence on Moldova remains predominant.
Moldova’s presudent, Maia Sandu, is a Moldovan and Romanian citizen who odiously sought to rehabilitate Romania’s World War II-era fascist leader, Ion Antonescu, whom she said in 2018 was “a historical figure about whom we may say both good and bad things.”
Antonescu and his regime (1940-1944) were responsible for the deaths of roughly 300,000 Jews, a figure second only to Nazi Germany.
Sandu’s fascist leanings have not stopped the Biden administration from providing generous aid packages to Moldova, ostensibly to help it cope with Ukrainian War refugees, along with military aid that is designed to help modernize Moldova’s armed forces.
Since 1992, the U.S. has invested $1.7 billion in Moldova to facilitate its re-orientation to the West. In 2021, the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) provided more than $6 million in grants to civil society organizations in Moldova, ostensibly to support independent media and democratic development, though an underlying goal was to further facilitate Moldova’s Westernization and detachment from Russia.
Military expert Peter Korzun warned in 2017 that Moldova was becoming another foothold for the U.S. military in Eastern Europe, with the U.S. carrying out military training exercises, donating equipment, and developing plans to develop training facilities for military operations at the Bulboaca training base, whose renovation the U.S. has funded.
In April 2022, USAID Administrator Samantha Power visited Moldova and met with Maia Sandu. Although Power wrote a book in 2019 lamenting American inaction in the face of large-scale human rights abuses and genocide, she has been silent about the human rights abuses in Moldova and unbothered by Sandu’s stance on Antonescu.
In 2020, the U.S. State Department’s year end human rights report for Moldova emphasized irregularities in the 2020 election that brought Sandu to power, while the 2022 State Department human rights report detailed the prevalence of torture, harsh and life-threatening prison conditions, serious corruption and the existence of the worst forms of child labor in Moldova.
Since coming to power, Sandu’s ruling PAS party has methodically cracked down on its political opponents and banned Russian-language media. Igor Dodon, Moldova’s former president (2016-2020) who is pro-Russian, has been indicted on treason and corruption charges that he said are politically motivated. According to Dodon, Sandu has “filled all the state institutions with foreign, Romanian, American and German advisers, who control all of the institutions.”
The violence directed at Orthodox Christians should be placed in the context of a wide range of human rights violations taking root in Moldova that have been ignored in the U.S. and Western media. The Ukraine conflict and the West’s new Cold War against Russia are being used by the Sandu regime to “tighten the screws.”
Attacks directed against Orthodox Christians unfortunately have become a common trend in Southeastern Europe and Central Asia, where Russophobes are inciting religious hatred that is leading to violence.
The situation in Moldova pre-dates Sandu and goes back to the early 1990s. This was investigated by Vladimir Bukarski, a native of Chisinau who is head of the Moldovan branch of the Association of Orthodox Experts and a political analyst for Moldova’s Socialist Party.
In 1992, a group of schismatic former priests of the Moldovan Metropolis initiated the creation of the so-called “Bessarabian Metropolis” of the Romanian Orthodox Church.
On July 5, 2023, the head of the State Secretariat for Cults under the Government of Romania, Ciprian-Vasile Olinici, visited the residence of the “Metropolitan Church of Bessarabia” in Chisinau, resulting in a lengthy communiqué in which the Moldovan Metropolitan Church was called an “occupation church structure,” driven by “imperial reflexes,” “afraid of losing power and influence in society.” The Moldovan Church is called “inadequate to the social processes of desovietization” and “unable to conduct a constructive dialogue in the interests of Orthodoxy.”
The very historical process of the establishment of the Chisinau-Khotyn diocese in 1813 is disputed, and its first bishop, Metropolitan Gavriil Bănulescu-Bodoni, is referred to as “a hierarch subjected to a ban and anathema by the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople.” Meanwhile, Metropolitan Gavriil, recently glorified as a saint, is one of the most revered saints of the Moldovan Church, and one of the central streets of Chisinau is named after him.
The Moldovan Metropolitan Church is described as “a non-canonical structure subordinated to the center of power in Moscow and filled with infiltrated representatives of Russian special services.” But the main accusations against the Moldovan Metropolitan Church were “anti-Europeanism and anti-Romanianism, fueled by Russian propaganda structures.”
In Vladimir Bukarski’s opinion, today it sounds like an open denunciation by the Western curators of the Sandu regime.
The “Metropolitanate of Bessarabia” is particularly zealous in protecting the priests who transfer to this structure. The document emphasizes that all these “blessed clerics” are classified as employees of the Romanian Orthodox Church and enjoy “all benefits, including financial support.”
Renowned Moldovan political scientist and religious scholar Victor Josu, former adviser to the first president of Moldova, speaking on the “Expertise” program of Sputniknews TV channel in June 2023, commented on another scandal between the Metropolises of Moldova and Bessarabia over a priest who decided to move from one Metropolis to another, for which Metropolitan Vladimir (Cantarean) of Chisinau and All Moldova deprived him of the right to conduct services.
The Metropolis of Bessarabia then accused the Metropolis of Moldova of basing its work on “abuse of power” and “coercion” rather than on free choice. In a published statement, the Metropolis of Bessarabia assured that it would accept all Romanian priests from Moldova and Ukraine who decide to leave the jurisdiction of the Moscow Patriarchate. Meanwhile, judging by the statements, representatives of the leadership of the ruling Moldovan party PAS are in every way condoning the split of the Orthodox Church of Moldova.
It is not for nothing that the Orthodox used to say, “Whatever the priest, whatever the parish.” As the ruling party is, so is the leader of the country. A vivid example demonstrating the openly anti-Orthodox position of Maia Sandu is cited by the news agency News-front in the publication about the destruction of the Orthodox Center “Philokalia” in the Moldovan village of Busteni in June 2023.
The attackers destroyed icons and textbooks, and some of them were set on fire right on the premises. As News-front stated, “this case could have been considered mere hooliganism if it were not for the persecution of the Orthodox Church led by Moldovan President Maia Sandu. It looks very much like Chisinau is copying the way that is being implemented in Kyiv.”
As a Romanian citizen, Sandu has been doing her best to strengthen the position of the small Bessarabian Metropolitan Church of the Romanian Orthodox Church, which competes with the Orthodox Church of Moldova. The president supports the transfer of the National Library building to the Romanian Church and has already received an ecclesiastical order for this.
In a recent interview with Romanian media, she spoke out quite strongly against the Moldovan Orthodox Church for being subordinate to the Moscow Patriarchate. “It is clear that part of the Church is largely working or supporting Russia. Unfortunately, some of them even support the war,” Sandu stated.
However, other political parties in Moldova are also trying to score political points on the topic of Orthodoxy. For example, in November 2022, the Liberal Party declared that Moldovan priests should join the “ancient and primordial Metropolitanate of Bessarabia.”
The response of the Moldovan-Chisinau Metropolitanate of the Russian Orthodox Church was immediate: “We believe that such calls for folly can come either from ignorant people who do not know the importance of obedience in the Church and the mechanisms of transition from one structure to another, or from people driven by a desire to sow discord and misunderstanding among the clergy.”
As reported by the Union of Orthodox Journalists (UOJ), the position of the Orthodox Church of Moldova is being criticized by the official authorities and is under pressure. In particular, the State Channel of Moldova accused the Orthodox Church of Moldova of supporting the Special Military Operation (SMO) in Ukraine and stopped broadcasting church services.
The leader of Moldova’s Liberal Party, Dorin Chirtoaca (former mayor of Chisinau, who lost his post after a corruption scandal), earlier said that Metropolitan Vladimir’s behavior contradicts national interests and the interests of the whole society. Romania requires Moldova to support the “Metropolitanate of Bessarabia.”
Political scientist Victor Josu on his portal traditia.md characterized three parties interested in deepening the division in the Moldovan Church, each acting in its own interests: “First, it is the Romanian Patriarchate, which emphasizes the “freedom of choice of priests” (as if there is no priestly oath and as if every priest did not swear before Almighty God and His Holy Cross and Gospel) and the fact that, according to the representatives of the Romanian Church, “more than 82% of the citizens of the Republic of Moldova are ethnic Romanians.”
At the same time, the Romanian brothers prefer to ignore the obvious truth: The overwhelming majority of these “more than 82%” identify themselves as ethnic Moldovans—whether one likes it or not.
Secondly, it is the Romanian political class, for whom the “Metropolitanate of Bessarabia” is, as the gentlemen from Bucharest like to put it, “the first institution of the Republic of Moldova to unite the Romanian race.”
And thirdly, it is the U.S. State Department, which for many years has pursued the goal of undermining the unity of the Russian Orthodox Church, in whose canonical jurisdiction the Metropolis of Chisinau and All Moldova continues to reside.
Perhaps there is no clearer and more explicit way to put it. And as applied to this case, we can only repeat the questions of the ancient Roman jurist Lucius Cassius Longinus Ravilla, with which he addressed to judges, helping them to find the guilty: “Cui bono? Cui prodest?” translated from classical Latin as “Who benefits? Who benefits? Who benefits?” Although in relation to the above mentioned Moldovan realities, these questions are no more than rhetorical….
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