Ukrainian Church, Moscow, Constantinople


Here is a quick look at how Ukrainian Cossacks experienced reality and difference of Moscow church from the one they attended and what happened afterwards.

Check out my new hardcover book

First two quotes are from the same book mentioned in the PART 1.

The third quote is from the documents Constantinople Church mentions to explain why it is so supportive of Ukrainian independent Church.

“When the (Polish-Lithuanian) Commonwealth and the Cossacks negotiated, they did not need translators. The Cossack officers and the Polish nobility (groups that overlapped) shared one, two, or even three languages: Latin, Polish, and the vernacular Ruthenian (Ukrainian). When the Cossacks negotiated with the Muscovites, they used translators. Khmel’nyts’kyi had letters in Muscovite dialect translated into Latin, so that he could read them.”

Until the middle of the 17th century Ukraine and Muscovy were parts of so different realms, they did not even understand the languages of one another!

The Cossacks had been an integral part of Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth and in everyday life they understood each other quite well.

How come that even highly educated Cossacks which spoke two or three languages, like Khmelnitsky, did not understand the language of that Muscovy ”Empire”?! How come that Muscovites did not understand its neighbors – the true heirs of Kiev Rus? What kind of “brother” was it in that case? Not even a distant relative in fact!

The answer is simple – Muscovy spoke Finnish-Ugric dialect heavy influenced by Tatar language and culture, because starting from the times of the Mongol Invasion, Moscow was basically a Commandant Office of the Golden Horde known to historians as Ulus Jochi.

“Article 3 of the 1654 Pereiaslav agreement with Muscovy even specified that the Cossacks would retain the rights they had enjoyed “under the Polish king.” Although the Muscovites appeared similar to the Cossacks as fellow Orthodox believers, they represented a very different political order. The Cossacks were, after all, fighting for toleration of Orthodox religion, and had a legitimate claim within a system that was supposed to guarantee the equal position of Christian faiths. In the end, however, the Cossacks allied with a power where Church was utterly subordinate to State.”

Pereiaslav Agreement – “a fateful alliance the Hetman state under Bohdan Khmelnytsky concluded with Tsar Aleksei Mikhailovich during the Cossack-Polish War” (Encyclopedia of Ukraine).

Already then, 350 years ago, one can see how different Ukrainian Church and Russian Church were: on Ukrainian side it was “toleration of Orthodox religion”, on Russian – “Church was utterly subordinate to State.

Is it any different in Russia these days by the way? If after the decision of Holy Synod in Constantinople to grant Ukrainian Church independence, Putin calls on Security Council meeting? It demonstrates that things have not changed and the Church in Russia is just a tool in international and geopolitical matters.  

It was the Agreement of Alliancewith the specification of the special rights as a condition!

The rights the Cossacks enjoyed under the Polish king.

Any lawyer will tell what happens to an agreement if a condition is not fulfilled.

And did Muscovy keep its word?

Very interesting and valuable in this regard is the historical document, known as the first Ukrainian Constitution of 5 April 1710. It was a peculiar constitutional pact between the newly elected, following the death of Mazepa, Hetman Pylyp Orlik and the whole Zaporozhian Host. Thus, in the first paragraph of this first Ukrainian Constitution, an obligation was made to restore the jurisdiction of the Ecumenical Patriarchate over the Metropolis of Kiev and the title of Metropolitans of Kiev as Exarchs of the Ecumenical Patriarchs. In particular, the Constitution of 1710 reads as follows:

“The current newly elected Hetman, when the Lord God, mighty and strong in the battles, will help … to liberate our Motherland, Little Russia, from the slavish yoke of Moscow, will be bound by duty and put under obligation to take special care that no alien religion is introduced into Little Russia, our Motherland … so that the only faith in the Eastern Orthodox confession, under the obedience of the Holy Apostolic See of Constantinople, was eternally approved”  (

Already 55 years later, the Cossacks view Moscow Church as the alien religion and as a yoke they needed to liberate Ukraine from.

The only Orthodox Church they recognized in 1710 was the See of Constantinople.

Previous articleRe-Imagining Galicia | Metropole
Next articleWayne Gretsky & Other UKEs: Documentary on Ukrainians in NHL


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here