Alexander Turchinov and Protestants in Ukraine

In Russia, a rather poorly aware of the fact that if we consider the ratio of churches and communities (over 30 thousand) and the country's population (about 50 million people.), Ukraine is one of the most Christian countries of Europe. In this country, not only is there a wide variety of jurisdiction Orthodoxy, Catholicism and Greek-Catholicism, but also a great variety of Protestant denominations. Evangelical churches - Baptists, Pentecostals, Adventists, Evangelicals of all stripes - are distributed throughout Ukraine, mega churches have strengths in both the East and the West.

On January 1, 2013 in Ukraine registered 9464 Protestant organizations on a background of 18 thousand Orthodox (in Russia, according to the Ministry of Justice, a little over 20 thousand registered Christian groups on nearly 144 million people).

What Acting president during the revolutionary crisis was a Baptist preacher Alexander Turchinov, - a point of pride for a large part of Protestants in Ukraine. For many, it is a symbol of the real equality of all religions before the law and tangible role of the evangelical movement in the socio-political life of the state. Along with all the other churches (from the Orthodox to the Greek Catholics) under the All-Ukrainian Council of Churches and individually Protestants supported the European integration, the new Kiev authorities, met with Turchinov and Yatsenyuk.

In the press a lot of rumors about what belongs to what faith Turchinov and whether he is a Baptist pastor. Russian channels on its already declared a "sectarian" and Charismatic Pentecostal. In fact Turchynov Baptist preacher is (not charismatic) mission "Word of Life" in Pechersk in Kiev (street Michurina). Pastor called simply for solidity. Strictly speaking, according to the Protestant creed, every believer has the priesthood. However, the Baptists more strictly than in other churches, and to become a pastor, you need to obtain a special ordination, which have no Turchinova (pastor in his tserkviVladimir Kunets). As they say eyewitnesses, he just comes and reads a sermon - the good, with a hint of moralizing, mostly about morality. Along with attending church Turchinov fellow faction Alexander oaks and former deputy Viktor Pricks.

Unlike many other Ukrainian politicians functionary of the party "Fatherland" Turchinov - quiet, thoughtful team player, a staunch supporter of Yulia Tymoshenko. In an interview, he admitted that he would be happy to become a pastor. Perhaps quiet conversation about morality give him some outlet after political battles. It certainly can not be called a charismatic leader, but "eternal second" often come to the fore, as happened, for example, with Vice President Johnson after Kennedy's assassination.

Turchynov was born in 1964 in Dnepropetrovsk and was a standard way of post-Soviet functionary - from the head of the department of agitation and propaganda of the regional committee of Komsomol before baptism into Orthodoxy during his work with President Kuchma. However Turchynov not stopped - in 1999 he moved to the Baptist faith, he said, already more consciously. It is unlikely that this was a political decision, especially in the late 1990s. Himself Turchynov tells it this way: "Communication in their environment (Baptist) has allowed me to see the difference between those who have the right words very often with deeds, and those who have God and faith - in the first place, and everything else - it secondary. I'm more interested in such denominations, where the iconic component is not the most important, but the heart can be revealed in direct communion with God "(" Faith and Life », №1, 2001).

Unlike the Orthodox-oriented politicians, many of whom are fighting for the idea of ​​a united and independent Ukrainian Orthodox Church, Turchynov has initiated a permanent interreligious dialogue. He - one of the founders of the All-Ukrainian Council of Churches, which clearly manifested itself in the course of the current crisis: it was an expression of the consolidated statements of opinion of all the churches, including the UOC-MP, which took a correct and accurate position.

It Turchynov created a platform for dialogue with believers of power, which could not and did not want to do Yanukovich.Malo who knows what from Russia already had contact with the Acting President Turchinov - March 2 telephone conversation Turchinova and Patriarch Kirill, in which the acting president to guarantee the rights of all the churches and the intention to engage in dialogue with Russia.

Alexander Turchinov tried to stop the decision to hold a referendum in the Crimea. When the Crimean Supreme Council adopted the Declaration of Independence, Turchynov said that Ukraine will not try to force stop the Russian occupation of the peninsula, so as not to put at risk its eastern borders.

Turchynov evangelizes democratic way completely in the style of pastors Republican US: "The powerful nations of Europe and America were formed and reached its economic and political prosperity, when people came into politics professing Christian morality and the Protestant ethic. For example, for the United States, like other developed countries, it is normal that most presidents - Protestants, including Baptists. If heads of states depart from the biblical foundation failures occur, the problem starts and crises "(interview to" Komsomolskaya Pravda », 19.08.2009).

Protestant and evangelical various currents rooted in Ukraine since the beginning of the missionary boom 10-x-20-ies of XX century, and since then have lost their positions, although the Soviet time the Protestants were considered half-mad cultists.

After the "orange revolution" along with Orthodoxy, Protestantism became an important element in the social life of Ukraine. Evangelical leaders have consistently argued for the further democratization of state institutions. Basic elements of the political creed of Protestants - the proclamation of the final rejection of Ukraine from the Soviet legacy in public life, a solid focus on the European world (awareness of the cultural and historical ties with Europe) and principled defense of democratic values ​​as a vital, without which the rejection of communism and the strengthening of ties with Europe impossible.

Ukraine demonstrates not only the opportunities but also the pitfalls of political activity of churches, during and after the elections, some churches split along party lines, parties and candidates do not meet expectations, does not behave as Christians, have to cooperate with radical
nationalists, to be part of a corrupt elite power.

For all that, it is important to understand that the Protestants are part of the global evangelical community, are not "American" in the soul, as is often assumed. Evangelical communities in different countries is extremely strong focus on patriotic values. In Russia, for example, Protestants in general rather support Putin's actions (in this sense the risk of "orange" sentiment among the Russian church is zero during the "orange revolution" in Ukraine Russian Protestants also mostly occupied statist position).

Senior Fellow, Institute of Europe RAS Roman Lunkin


See also

New and interesting