The other day I remembered school history lessons from the Soviet era when we studied the 1905 revolution. It began with a Bloody Sunday — the execution by Russian soldiers of a religious procession to the tsar. The Orthodox priest Father Georgi Gapon, who in the textbooks was called a provocateur, led thousands of Orthodox faithful carrying icons and banners to ask mercy of the tsar. The tsar answered with bullets. Perhaps we do not know the entire truth about these events, but in the textbooks Father Gapon was accused of manipulating the emotions of the illiterate faithful and also of leading them to certain death.
You have probably guessed why I mentioned Father Gapon. Just as did Gapon, the chief cleric now seated in Moscow has decreed that the subordinates of the Moscow Patriarchate this time send to Kyiv — in other words, to the Ukrainian government and to the Ukrainian president — two religious processions: one from the East, the other one from the West. As for me, I immediately viewed the education of this strategist of God to be a military one. Perhaps to ensure greater victory and to make the operation appear even more attractive on the military-political map, he additionally asked the loyal faithful from Odesa to dispatch yet another religious procession– from the South. In order to place a final viselike grip on Kyiv and squeeze out everything from it that Moscow desires. If many exercises in the old geometry textbooks began with the words “the train left from point A to point B,” then I can easily imagine contemporary exercises in some future textbook of military geometry or geography in the hands of the students of the Russian Suvorov or Kutuzov military schools: “three columns of Orthodox warriors went from points A, B, C, in the direction of point K. Which column will reach the goal first if the column from point A moves at a speed of …”
In general, I do not think I am alone in my fears about the purpose of this “orthodox” operation that has been planned abroad. The closer the people singing “God bless the tsar” approach, the stronger is the smell of sweat, and the more frequently Father Gapon comes to mind.
Three Orthodox armies are marching on Kyiv to pray for the world and to demand the end of war. But, in reality, they could have stopped the war completely without marching on Kyiv armed with crosses and icons. Now if they had marched to Moscow and prayed for Russian officials to stop the interference, including military, in the matters of a neighboring state, then perhaps the war would end. But who would allow them to enter Moscow? Somehow I haven’t heard anything about any religious procession beginning somewhere in Yekaterinburg and ending by the Kremlin walls. Nor would any procession reach Moscow. But still they could end the war in a different fashion. It would be enough for all of them to join hands and stand along the length of the border between occupied Donbas and Russia. To stand and with the help of prayer and their bodies stop the movement of tanks, missiles, weapon-filled trains, and antichrists with and without weapons. Stop everything so that nothing moves in either direction. Of course, in that case it would be necessary to suffer for one’s faith. Perhaps even give one’s life. But peace in our land is worth it. Every day Ukrainian soldiers and volunteers are paying for this peace with their lives.
Perhaps these three processions will nonetheless unite after reaching Kyiv and go East? To place the border under the protection of God? Everything is possible! Miracles happen! Especially if a person really believes.
Andriy Kurkov is an internationally renowned novelist, journalist and scriptwriter. He is author of 19 novels, including Death and the Penguin, some 20 fictional and documentary movie scripts, and numerous articles. His first-person account of the pro-European Maidan revolution, Ukraine Diaries: Dispatches from Kyiv, was published in 2014 . His work has been translated into some 37 languages.