Identity Migration of Orthodox Churches During the War in Ukraine (Since 2014)

By Denys Brylov and Tetiana Kalenychenko

Along with the beginning of the independent history of Ukraine following the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991, Ukrainian society experienced a religious renaissance, which also began to define identity. Identities did not always remain purely religious, but could also have a cultural and traditional character, such as the self-definition of a Ukrainian as a Christian, mainly Orthodox, despite the country’s multi-religious and multicultural map. The formation and clash of religious identities in Ukrainian society closely relate to the political context during the period of dramatic history since the late 80s and early 90s. The revival of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church (UGCC), the split in Ukrainian Orthodoxy into the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (in canonical unity with the Moscow Patriarchate – UOC MP), the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (UOC Kyiv Patriarchate) in 1992 and the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church (UAOC before 2018) determined the dynamics of the formation of religious identity in Ukraine for many years as dominant religious groups.

Having reached a certain stability by the end of the 1990s, this process sharply escalated in connection with the Russian occupation of Crimea and the armed conflict with Russian aggression in eastern and southern Ukraine since 2014. The key event in this period was the unification of two Orthodox churches – the UOC-KP and the UAOC – at the Unification Council of 2018 into the Orthodox Church of Ukraine (OCU) and its receipt of autocephaly from the Ecumenical Patriarchate in January 2019[1]. The “church issue” became rapidly politicized against the background of the rise of patriotic sentiment in Ukrainian society.

The Russian full-scale invasion on February 24, 2022 further exacerbated the problem of the transformation of religious identities. Dramatic changes are taking place among the believers and the clergy of the UOC-MP, which, apparently, is experiencing the most serious crisis in its entire existence[2]. In our study, we have focused precisely on these transformations of religious identity in the UOC-MP taking place under the conditions of the Russian-Ukrainian war.

As a methodological approach, we use the model proposed by Rawi Abdelal, Yoshiko M. Herrera, Alastair Iain Johnston, and Rose McDermott, who define collective identity as a social category that varies along two dimensions — content and contestation. Content describes the meaning of a collective identity. The content of social identities may take the form of four, non-mutually-exclusive types:

• Constitutive norms refer to the formal and informal rules that define group membership.

• Social purposes refer to the goals that are shared by members of a group.

• Relational comparisons refer to defining an identity group by what it is not, i.e., the way it views other identity groups, especially where those views about the other are a defining part of the identity.

• Cognitive models refer to the worldviews or understandings of political and material conditions and interests that are shaped by a particular identity.

Contestation refers to the degree of agreement within a group over the content of the shared identity[3].

The religious situation in Ukraine on the eve of the Russian-Ukrainian war

Historically, Ukraine has been a polyconfessional country, in which, already in the era of Kyivian Rus (10th – 13th centuries), powerful religious traditions such as pagan beliefs, Christianity, Judaism, and Islam coexisted. Today, more than 100 faith communities are represented in Ukraine, embracing 93 religious centers, and 301 religious administrations.[4]

The level of religiosity among Ukrainians has an expressively regional character. According to sociological data of the Razumkov Center, a Kyiv-based think tank, in 2018 these regional specificities still played an important role: up to 91% of residents of Western regions and up to 59% of residents of Southern regions considered themselves believers.

The connection between religious and national identities differs in regards to the region of living and denomination of the person: 54% Western Ukraine habitants since 2000 were sure that religion should be nationally oriented and merely 12% of Eastern Ukraine respondents supported this idea. A majority of UGCC believers also support this idea (66%), while OCU members are less unified (48% agree) and UOС mainly opposes it (26%). Between 2000 and 2020, the group of supporters of the national-religious identity did not grow significantly, while the number of those who opposed the idea decreased [5].

At the same time other survey data revealed that religious identity per se is much less important to Ukrainian citizens than civic or regional identity. When answering the question «Which social community do you identify yourself with in the first place?», 68% of respondents answered, «with citizens of Ukraine», and only 3% — «with people of the same faith as me». Compared to people belonging to other churches and denominations, the faithful of the UOC-MP are most likely to identify themselves with people of the same faith as them (6%). For comparison, the share of such faithful among the OCU and the UGCC believers is 2%[6].

A survey of the Pew Research Center published in May 2017 shows that 51% of Ukrainians believe that being Orthodox means also being a true national representative of your country[7]. Ukrainians define their religious identity through national, cultural and family traditions (46%), peculiar properties of faith (12%), both aforementioned (12%) and other (7%) factors. 12% explain their being Catholic or Orthodox due to the primarily national-cultural factor. More religious people are prone to be proud about their nationality; 48% of Ukrainians very proud of their nationality say that religion has importance.

Ukrainian Orthodox Church in crisis

Today the UOC-MP has found itself in perhaps the most serious crisis in its entire existence. Since 2014 the UOC-MP has been viewed by some Ukrainians as an agent of influence of the Russian Orthodox Church and Russian influence more broadly. A vivid manifestation of this was a renewal of transfers of individual religious communities from one jurisdiction to another (in this case from UOC (MP) to UOC(KP)). 39 communities left UOC (MP) for UOC(KP) and two more joined UAOC. Besides, thirty cases were reported where part of a community left the UOC (MP) in order to register a new religious organization. These transfers would quite often take radical forms, resulting in forceful seizures of church buildings[8].

This internal crisis has only been exacerbated by pressure from the independent Orthodox Church of Ukraine from the outside, with OCU leader Metropolitan Epiphany actively urging UOC-MP priests to move to the OCU. Cases of forcible transfer of parishes have become more frequent, primarily in the western regions of Ukraine, sometimes accompanied by the abduction of UOC-MP priests. On the other hand, there were repeated cases of anti-Ukrainian propaganda, collaboration with the Russian military, and signs of treason on the part of some ministers of the UOC-MP. However, not all of them received a continuation in the legal field in the form of criminal proceedings or, even more so, court cases. By his Decree No. 898/2022 of December 28, 2022, President Zelensky suspended the citizenship of approximately 13 priests of the UOC-MP as Ukrainian media reported[9]. According to official data, in 2022 more than 40 counterintelligence and security measures were conducted in the church environment of the UOC-MP. 61 criminal proceedings were instituted against 61 clergymen. In total, the courts have already issued 7 verdicts against individual clerics, including 2 of them were used in exchange for Ukrainian prisoners of war. Sanctions were introduced against 17 officials of the UOC-MP, and almost 250 clerics of the Russian Orthodox Church were banned from entering Ukraine. Also, the citizenship of Ukraine was terminated for 19 clergymen of the UOC-MP, 2 citizens of Russia were initiated[10].

Billboard, spring 2022, depiction of Metropolitan Onufrii and phrase “Moscowian kills”, Photo: Taras Dyatlik, ECSA

Russian full-scale invasion put UOC-MP hierarchy and believers before the choice – are they part of the Russian Orthodox Church (in the canonical sense) or is it a Ukrainian and pro-Ukrainian church on independent basis. As such, the head of the UOC-MP, Metropolitan Onuphryy, was forced to take a clear position on the war and made an early appeal to believers in which he acknowledged Russian aggression and called for unity in order to protect the sovereignty and integrity of Ukraine.

Moreover, the decree of the highest for UOC-MP leading structure as Unified Council from May 27, 2022 says directly «considered issues of Church life that arose as a result of the military aggression of the Russian Federation in Ukraine»[11]. In its decisions the Council condemned the war as a violation of the commandment “thou shalt not kill”, and also expressed his disagreement with the position of the Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Rus regarding the war in Ukraine.

However, at the beginning of the invasion, Metropolitan Onuphryy was not ready for a direct conflict with the Russian Orthodox Church and its leader Patriarch Kirill, as our respondents mentioned. This has led to a serious crisis within the UOC-MP, with clergy reacting in three different ways: 1) withdrawal from the UOC-MP and transition to the OCU, 2) maintaining a pro-Moscow position, up to direct support for Russia, 3) refusal to commemorate Patriarch Kirill and calls for the leadership of the UOC-MP to break the canonical connection with the ROC.

Some UOC-MP priests, shocked by the hardline and pro-invasion position of the Russian Orthodox Church and the deaths of some clergymen at the hands of the Russian military, seem inclined to join the independent Orthodox Church of Ukraine. For example, according to priest, rector of the Holy Resurrection New Athos Monastery in Lviv, Fr. Job (Olshansky), who transferred with his community to the OCU in March 2022:

«our delay makes us Russian collaborators. I want you and me to be just Orthodox Christians who praise God, love their state and pray for it… to pray for the Ukrainian army, for the Ukrainian state and Ukrainian authorities»[12].

The main reason for the transition to the OCU in this group is the unwillingness to associate themselves with the Russian Orthodox Church, with the “murderer church”, and become “collaborators of Russia”, as they are called in discussions on social media, that is, civic identity begins to prevail. Crucially, after the start of the Russian-Ukrainian war local UOC-MP priests have a different understanding of the relationship between religious and national identity, as priest Andrii Ponomarenko from the village of Aleksandrovka, Dnipropetrovsk region, who joined the OCU in April 2022, argued:

People often talk about the national idea, what it should be. The people of Ukraine are showing this idea today – personal initiative and self-organization, decentralization and local responsibility, add to this transparency and we will get both a national idea and an example of a canonical Church.[13]

But, relative to the total number of communities of the UOC-MP, at present this is a very small group. From February 24 to September 2022, less than 600 parishes transferred from the UOC-MP to the OCU, and just over a thousand since the receipt of the Tomos. According to the number of communities that have moved from the UOC-MP to the OCU since the beginning of the Russian invasion, Khmelnytskyy, Kyiv and Volyn regions are in the lead.

The second group, which includes some of the high-ranking priests in the UOC-MP, primarily those based in Kyiv, retains a pro-Moscow orientation, but has not publicly declared it. This group also includes the priests of the UOC-MP convicted of collaborationism. The behavior of these priests caused  negative reactions not only from the patriotic segment of Ukrainian society, but also within the UOC-MP itself.

At the same time, an important part of the religious identity of this type of priests (and believers) is the idea of Ukrainians and Russians as fraternal peoples connected by a common origin and faith:

«The last drop was information about the participation of UOC-MP clerics (priests and monks) in the temporarily occupied territories in pseudo-referendums for “joining Russia” and their calls for “unification with the brotherly people in a single country.[14]

In public space, on social media as well as in expert opinions, this group is called a supporter of the concept of the “Russian world”[15]. However, it should be noted that this concept, despite accusations by Ukrainian priests and activists against Patriarch Kirill of adherence to this “heretical teaching”, is not the church teaching of the ROC. This was born within intellectual circles in the Russian Federation, influenced by Petr Schedrovitskij and Efim Ostrovskij in the 1990’s. [16].

The third group, which includes a significant number of priests, is not ready to move to the independent Orthodox Church of Ukraine but does not want to remain part of the Russian Orthodox Church either. This group has advocated for the convening of the Holy Council of Bishops of the UOC-MP to withdraw from their canonical subordination to the Russian Orthodox Church.

According to the Deputy Chairman of the Foreign Relations Department of the UOC-MP, fr. Nikolai Danylevych, who voiced the official position of the church,

the statements and actions by Patriarch Kirill, and his assessment of the Russian-Ukrainian war, and the attack on Ukraine, and the open invasion of Ukraine, it is, to put it mildly, strange, or rather, absolutely inadequate. And his statements aroused fierce opposition. Misunderstanding, rejection and resistance. Many priests and even bishops stopped commemorating Patriarch Kirill [17].

UOC-MP temple ruined in the result of shellings.
 Facebook, Religion on fire project:

On March 1, the clergy of the Sumy diocese, supported by their bishop, Metropolitan Evlogii, refused to commemorate Kirill. In just a few days the number of dioceses that refused to commemorate Patriarch Kirill exceeded 15 (out of more than 50 dioceses of the UOC-MP). Even in dioceses where there were neither collective appeals nor corresponding decisions of local bishops, some priests stopped commemorating the Patriarch individually[18]. In many ways, this behavior can be explained by the position of 52%  of the parishioners of the UOC-MP who supported  “the idea of breaking ties with the Russian Orthodox Church” (only 13% refused) in a survey conducted on March 8-9 by the Rating group[19].

One prominent member of this group was priest Andrii Pinchuk from the Dnipropetrovsk region, who sent an open letter to the court of the Pentarchy (five heads of the oldest Orthodox Churches) with a request to condemn Patriarch Kirill (to whom the UOC-MP is formally subordinate) for propagandizing the “Russian World” doctrine for years. His appeal collected more than 400 signatures of UOC-MP priests from all over Ukraine[20].

In mid-May, the Holy Synod of the UOC-MP decided to hold a meeting of bishops, clergy, monks and laity to discuss the challenges faced by the UOC-MP. At the meeting on May 27, the head of the UOC-MP, Metropolitan Onufriy (Berezovsky), referring to the reaction of believers, proposed to consider the issue of autocephaly of the UOC (MP). Due to the fact that only the Council of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church can make a decision on changing the status, on the same day, May 27, Metropolitan Onuphriy initiated and successively held a meeting of the Holy Synod of the UOC-MP, the Council of Bishops of the UOC-MP and the Council of the UOC-MP with the participation of laity, monastics and clergy. As a result, 95% of the participants of the Council of the UOC-MP voted for changing the status of the church[21].

In its final document, the Council of the UOC(MP) condemned the war in the first paragraphs, appealed to the authorities of Ukraine and Russia with a call to continue searching for ways to stop the bloodshed, expressed disagreement with the position of Patriarch Kirill of Moscow regarding the war in Ukraine and approved additions and amendments to the Statute on the management of the UOC-MP “which testify about the complete independence and independence of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church”[22].

Despite the enormous pressure exerted by the Ukrainian society, the parishioners of the UOC-MP, and the authorities of Ukraine, the leadership of the UOC-MP was not ready to violate the canonical rules (as it understands them) in favor of a patriotic pro-state position. Moreover, as one of the high-ranking priests of the UOC-MP noted, the motive of Metropolitan Onufriy, who in fact became the driving force behind the holding of the Council of the UOC-MP and the administrative separation from the ROC, was not socio-political factors, but religious:

«For the Primate, the main thing was not that Russia attacked Ukraine. The Church thinks in centuries. Borders may change, Orthodoxy remains. The main thing was that Vladyka (Onufriy – author) decided that Kirill had deviated from Christian values»[23].

For a significant part of the parishioners and clergy of the UOC-MP, religious identity turns out to be more important than regional-ethnic or even national – even for those who are not supporters of the ideas of the “Russian World”. This is also supported by the results of in-depth interviews taken in the Western region of Ukraine – in Volyn – with completely pro-Ukrainian parishioners and priests of the UOC-MP in the first months of the Russian invasion, when the possibility of a legislative ban on the activities of the UOC (MP) was actively discussed in Ukrainian society. Interviewees expressed the opinion that in the event of a ban on the UOC (MP), the parishioners and priests could go to the Orthodox Autocephalous Church of Poland (which operated on this territory until 1944). At the same time, they did not even consider the possibility of moving to the OCU, arguing this with canonical (essentially religious) reasons.

In their rationale for the non-canonicity of the OCU as a newly created autocephalous church, supporters of the UOC-MP largely reproduce (often without indicating the source) the explanation of the Biblical and Theological Commission of the Russian Orthodox Church “On the invalidity of the consecrations of Ukrainian schismatics and the non-canonicity of the “Orthodox Church of Ukraine[24]“. This document emphasizes, first of all, “the unilateral actions of the Patriarchate of Constantinople in Ukraine, culminating in the signing in January 2019 of the so-called tomos of autocephaly against the will of the episcopate, clergy, monastics and laity of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church.” The main problem is that the Synod of the Patriarchate of Constantinople, without the consent of the Russian Orthodox Church, accepted into Eucharistic communion persons “without legal ordination.” In this case, we are talking about the fact that a significant part of the consecrations of the episcopate of the OCU was received from Metropolitan Filaret (Denysenko) of Kyiv and All Ukraine, who was excommunicated (anathematized) by the Russian Orthodox Church in 1997. The Biblical and Theological Commission of the Russian Orthodox Church insists that only the ROC itself can cancel its anathematization of Metropolitan Filaret.

Thus, we can say that for a significant part of the laity and clergy of the UOC-MP, religious identity is no less significant than national, and sometimes even more significant. The most important concept remains “canonicity” as a part of relational comparisons, according to the model of Rawi Abdelal, that is seen as opposite to the “uncanonical” OCU. As Metropolitan Klyment commented on the possibility for UOC-MP to join OCU in terms of Russian invasion and no possibility to stay in ROC:

The option to go to the OCU is unrealistic. We will lose the most important thing – the canonical truth of our church. And this is exactly what our congregation is looking for and what it finds in our church[25].

Metropolitan Anthony (Pakanych), often considered the main lobbyist for the interests of the ROC within the UOC-MP, spoke even more sharply in his address to the believers on the 1035th anniversary of the baptism of Russia by Prince Volodymyr. He declared:

«our disagreement with “OCU” is mainly in the canonical plane. First of all, there is a question regarding the legality of the ordinations of the “clergy” of this organization, which does not allow us to have any common prayer or Eucharistic communication both with it and with those churches that, despite church rules, have decided to recognize its “sacraments” as allegedly legal. And no dialogues with this structure will change the essence: the apostolic succession cannot be filled with anything except repentance and canonical ordination. And if the Ukrainian Orthodox Church started such communication, it would actually cease to exist as a canonical church»[26].

For understanding the identity of believers, an important indicator is the relationship between declared identity and recognition of oneself as a member of a certain parish. After all, one can call oneself a believer of a particular denomination, without particularly practicing one’s religious beliefs. According to Sergei Bortnik this is a common problem for Ukraine, as with a stated total number of “believers” of 67.8%, only 20.9% call themselves members of a certain parish. If such a weak connection to a particular parish is quite expected by the “mere Orthodox” (5%) and “mere Christians” (7.1%), it is a significant problem for the leading denominations[27]. In the UOC-MP this figure is slightly better — 36.1% against 58.2%, and in the OCU it is only 25.8% against 70.9% of those who do not consider themselves members of a particular parish. In fact, this means that only a quarter of the declared members of the OCU have an opportunity or need to regularly attend church services of their denomination.

Other data also testify the assumption of a greater involvement of the parishioners of the UOC (MP) in church life. In particular, the latter are much more likely to attend church services: “once a week” — 18.9% in the UOC (MP) against 10.1% in the OCU, and “more often than once a week” — 6.5% in the UOC (MP) against 3.4% in the OCU. The similar balance in favor of the UOC (MP) is in the question “Have you attended Church service last Sunday?” — 38.5% in the UOC (MP) against 25.1% in the OCU[28].

In our opinion, when speaking about the OCU, instead of religious identity, it is appropriate to talk about the phenomenon of “civil religion”. On this matter we can agree with Rev. Cyrill Hovorun, who states that in order to understand social and political processes in contemporary states that associate themselves with the Eastern Christian tradition (in particular Ukraine), the concept of “civil religion” is a useful hermeneutic key. In his view, we can observe the collision of two types of civil religion in Ukraine: the Russian imperial one that is propagated as the “Russian world” (represented partly by the UCO (MP)), and a Balkan-style nationalistic one, in which a set of beliefs, symbols and rituals constitute a quasi-religion (as a superficial and not religiously based movement) of the nation (represented by the UOC KP and later the OCU)[29]. A good illustration of this “quasi-religion of the nation” is the meme “atheist of the Kyiv Patriarchate,” which spread widely among the intelligentsia that positions itself as patriotic and was coined by President Petro Poroshenko’s advisor Yuri Biryukov[30]. At the same time, there is no need to talk about any transformation of the identity of the followers of the OCU after the start of the Russian invasion in February 2022, since from the very beginning their identity had a more pronounced national character. Moreover, one could say that OCU could become a special civil-religious center (being basis for cultural identity but not real and regular religious practice) of attraction for those pro-Ukrainian citizens who are not active in their beliefs and affiliations. At the same time, it can become deconstructive for the OCU as a religious institution, the “Church of Christ”, aimed at confessional affiliation.


The Russian invasion of Ukraine in February 2022 led to significant changes in public consciousness and major transformations in the identity of Ukrainians which especially affected the supporters of the UOC-MP that for many years was part of the Russian Orthodox Church. The position of the head of the ROC, Patriarch Kirill, who justifies the invasion and appeals to the imaginary community of the Russian and Ukrainian peoples within the framework of the nationalist concept of the “Russian World”, alienated many priests and laity of the UOC-MP from the ROC. At the same time, the more pronounced religious identity of the parishioners of the UOC-MP and public pressure on the church led to dramatic processes that brought the UOC-MP closer to a situation of internal schism. As our study showed, for a significant part of the laity and clergy of the UOC-MP, religious identity is no less significant than national, and sometimes even more significant. Among the believers of the UOC-MP, the relational type of identity content is the key one. The believers of the UOC define their identity through the definition of what it is not – namely, non-canonical, which are considered by their opponents from the OCU (and earlier from the UOC-KP and the UAOC). Crisis events for the UOC-MP in 2022-2023 showed that even for the most pro-Ukrainian priests and laity it is extremely difficult to overcome the perception of the OCU as a “non-canonical” and “graceless” structure.

At the same time, interestingly enough, the clergy of the UOC-MP find a way out between the impossibility of maintaining close relations with the Russian Orthodox Church, pressure from Ukrainian society and the authorities, and the request of their own flock to preserve “canonicity” in appeal to the early “pre-Nicaea”[31] Christianity, when bishops enjoyed wide autonomy in decision-making. Thus, in point 7 of the Decree of the Council of the UOC-MP of May 27, 2022, it says:

«During the period of conflict, when means of communication between the eparchies and the ecclesiastical centre are complicated or become absent, the Council considered it expedient to grant eparchial bishops the right to decide on certain issues of eparchial life that is usually within the competence of the Holy Synod or the Primate of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church. Subsequently, when the possibility arises and upon restoration of ties to notify the ruling hierarchs»[32]

As Metropolitan Klyment (Vecherya) said, the Council was based on the understanding that each diocese is a local church, and each bishop is the head of his local church. In his opinion, only such a non-standard form of further existence of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church will allow it to preserve its internal unity in the conditions of war[33]. If the question of affiliation and transparency of the activities and intentions of the UOC (MP) remains a cornerstone in the public space for religious and non-religious people, these splits in identity and change of priorities also occur in other religious currents, in particular Protestants. As we wrote above, they experienced a final split with the Russian brothers in faith who remained neutral or loyal to the regime, instead, the majority of Ukrainian ministers took a proactive position and are trying to rethink the latest crisis theologically.

Considering the metamorphoses of the religious world, we can trace which parts of the identity mosaic prevail. Our findings indicate a review of the priorities regarding the components of identity: First, the national component occupies an increasingly important position, second, there are attempts to form and consolidate a religious-civil identity, which remains visible in public, but almost does not touch the personal life and spiritual practices of citizens, third there is a split among religious organizations, which had traditional long-term relations in the post-Soviet space, and are now losing or severing ties with Russia. What is clear is that paying attention to the religious sphere adds to our understanding of the dynamics of identity because religion constitutes an existential identity component driving decision-making in the context of crisis. However, it is worth paying attention to the formation of a civil narrative on the part of religious communities, as well as representatives of the authorities and opinion leaders, where the very concept of citizenship can be inclusive in perspective, and not a concentration on a certain ethnicity or religion.


[1] Brief history of OCU on the official website:

[2] Brylov D., Kalenychenko T., Ukrainian Religious Actors and Organizations after Russia’s Invasion

The Struggle for Peace (policy brief), Berkley Center, 2022:

[3] Abdelal, R., Herrera, Y., Johnston, A., & McDermott, R. (2006). Identity as a Variable. Perspectives on Politics, 4(4), 695-711.

[4] See the report on the religious organizations network:

[5] Osoblyvosti relihiynoho i tserkovno-relihiynoho samovyznachennya hromadyan Ukrayiny: tendentsiyi 2000-2020 rr. Tsentr Razumkova, 2020: 7.

[6] Specifics of Religious and Church Self-determination of Citizens of Ukraine: Trends 2000-2021. Razumkov centre, 2021: 6.

[7] Pew Research Center. 2017. “Religious Belief and National Belonging in Central and Eastern Europe.” Pew Research Center, May 10.

[9] Epiphanius in the Lavra. For the first time in the history of the OCU, the Christmas service is held in the Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra

[10] The SSU reported the suspicion to Metropolitan Pavlo of the UOC (MP) (video). Security Service of Ukraine.

[11] Resolutions of the Council of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of May 27, 2022. Ukrainian Orthodox Church. 28 May 2022.

[13] Antoshevsʹkyy T. “Potribna nova arkhitektura tserkovnoho zhyttya”, — o. Andriy Ponomarenko pro sviy vykhid z UPTS MP ta poshuk tserkovnoyi yednosti. Relihiyno-informatsiyna sluzhba Ukrayiny. 3 May 2022.–o-andrij-ponomarenko-pro-svij-vihid-z-upc-mp-ta-poshuk-cerkovnoyi-yednosti_n128894

[14] Ibid.

[15] UOC-MP is the last marker of Russian world in Ukraine – Andrii Yurash:

[16] Brylov, D. and T. Kalenychenko. (2021). “Religion and Nationalism in Post-Soviet Space: Between State, Society and Nation”. In: J.S. Cornelio, F. Gauthier, T. Martikainen & L. Woodhead (Eds.), Routledge International Handbook of Religion in Global Society. New York: Routledge. 399-409.

[17] V Ukraine 15 yeparkhiy UPTS Moskovskogo patriarkhata perestali pominat’ patriarkha RPTS Kirilla – Danilevich. Krym.Realii. 15 March 2022.

[18] Fert A. “Our flock does not want to hear the name of Patriarch Kirill anymore”. OpenDemocracy. 11 March 2022.

[19] Evaluating situation in Ukraine (8-9 March 2022) //

[20] Kalenychenko T. and Brylov, D. (May 2022). “Whoever saves one life saves the world entire”: Ukrainian religious denominations during the war. Bulletin de l’Observatoire international du religieux N°37.

[21] Kak prokhodil Sobor UPTS i kakiye prinyaty resheniya. Díalog.Tut.27 May 2022.

[22] Resolutions of the Council of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of May 27, 2022. Ukrainian Orthodox Church. 28 May 2022.

[23] Interview, Kyiv, August 2022.

[24] Chayka Т. The ROC has published a theological explanation about the non-canonicity of the OCU. Union of Orthodox Journalists. 9 of October 2019.

[25] Khomenko S., Chervonenko V., Lotareva A. “Being defines consciousness.” Did the Ukrainian Orthodox Church get rid of the Moscow Patriarchate? BBC Ukraine. 30 May 2022.

[26] Metr. Antonii (Pakanuch): God, save your Church in truth and unity! Orthodox Life, 28 July 2023.

[27] Bortnyk S. Overestimated declared identity of the OCU faithful and unexpected tolerance of the UOC(MP) faithful: analysis of the Razumkov Center’s data. CF “Academic initiative”.

[28] Specifics of Religious and Church Self-determination of Citizens of Ukraine: Trends 2000-2021. Razumkov centre, 2021: 50.

[29] Arkhimandrit Kirill Govorun. Pravoslavnaya grazhdanskaya religiya. Religion in Ukraine. 18 May 2015.

[31] Means Christianity of the first centuries, before Nicene Council of the 325 year.

[32] Resolutions of the Council of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of May 27, 2022. Ukrainian Orthodox Church. 28 May 2022.


About the Authors

Denys Brylov is the head of the European Center for Strategic Analytics. He is a psychologist and an anthropologist of religion and holds a PhD in Religious Studies and Theology. He is also a senior researcher at the A. Krymsky Institute of Oriental Studies of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine. His main academic interests are Islam, political activism in Islam and transnational Islamic movements, religious factors in conflicts, and religion and nationalism. Located in Kyiv, Denys Brylov is a 2022/2023 non-resident Prisma Ukraïna Fellow at the Forum Transregionale Studien.

Tetiana Kalenychenko is the executive director of the European Center for Strategic Analytics. She holds a PhD in Sociology of Religion and her dissertation work was titled “The Religious Component in Socio-Political Conflict in Ukraine, 2013–2017”. Her research includes the topics of religion and conflict and religion and peace. Tetiana Kalenychenko, located in Bucha, is a 2022/2023 non-resident Prisma Ukraïna Fellow at the Forum Transregionale Studien.

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Citation: Denys Brylov and Tetiana Kalenychenko, Identity Migration of Orthodox Churches During the War in Ukraine (since 2014), in: TRAFO – Blog for Transregional Research, 31.08.2023,

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