Moscow, 2003, the banner reads "communism is an immortal teaching of Christ"

In 2013, when Yanukovych's regime made a political skid towards the EU integration, we could observe significant growing of promotion an image of "conservative Russia" in Ukrainian mass-media or even mass-cultuarl space (the origins of this image have a longer history)This process has reached its top during the Maidan events and, especially, during the war. At the level of the "official" social and political discourse, the "Russian World" being concidered as a concept that embodies conservative ideas in life and which is opposed to the "European path" of Ukraine. 

This, on my opinion, unjustified image of the modern Russian has reached even the area of religious studies. In 2015, a collective monograph entitled "Watersheds of secularization" was issued. Among other topics, it touched upon the issue of conflict in the Donbass representing it as something that "is fueled by religious juices" (p. 212). This question is raised in at least two chapters: "Religious origins and the civilizational cotential of the 'Russian World' doctrine" and "The risks of western society. East-Ukrainian conflict as a separate case of the global collision." 

During the book presentation in Kyiv, on October 15, 2015 the theme of "Russian Orthodox fundamentalism" was articulated with particular clarity (here and thereafter, the term "fundamentalism" is used in quotes due to the popular meaning has a conditional nature). Volodymyr Gurzhy - one of the co-authors of the monograph - emphasized the supposedly religious nature of the pro-Russian miliatry formations fighting in the Donbass, in particular, he mentioned the phenomenon of the "Russian Orthodox Army." Criticizing "fundamentalism," the scientific reviewer of the monograph Mykhailo Cherenkov unfolded the apologie of a kind of moderate secularism. as noted in the brief report of the presentation, Cherenkov "in his speech emphasized that secularism was, although not always optimal, but a pivot for the social system, while the new order of things has not yet been determined, and its manifestations are now mostly aggressive."

Mr. Cherenkov has repeatedly addressed in his publications and speeches the topic of religious dimensions of the contemporary Moscow's aggression against Ukraine. Saturation and intensity of these dimentions, in his opinion, is quite deep. In his essay "The Holy War Against Common Sense" Mykhailo Cherenkov had even represented a religion factor as a dominant component behind the conflict: "This is a religious dominant that makes the conflict in Ukraine unsettled by political and economic methods. If the war against Ukraine is a holy war for holy Russia, then neither sanctions nor diplomatic agreements are able to stop it," - writes religious scholar. Let's agree, that such theses clearly indicates the researcher's believe the religious factor as something that determines the Moscow aggression as so.

Considering the above a question arise - how fair the creation of an image of "Russian Orthodox fundamentalism" is?

Answering this question, let's first consider the elementary example - the existence of the above-mentioned "Russian Orthodox army." Undoubtedly, the very name of this formation is very eloquent. But, is there any realy powerfull religious content behind the name? This is the question. In fact, there are no evidences that a high level of catechism and religious practice has been cultivating within the abovementioned military formation (even the opposite). 

However, even if we suppose that the "Russian Orthodox Army" terrorist group members could been characterized by a high level of religious motivation, the presence of this formation can by no means indicate on "Orthodox fundamentalism" as a key feature of the Russian invasion to the Donbas. The DSRG Rusich militant group had also been participating in the combat actions on Russian side. It was composed mainly of Russian far-right, if speaking in popular language. But this does not mean that the "Novorossia" project was oriented towards the idea of national-socialism. On the contrary, one of the pillars of the Novorossia ideology is fanatical "antifascism" and Soviet reactionary sentiments. At the same time, a very large percentage of Russian right-wing has clearly pro-Ukrainian position, which manifests itself in a vide range of actions - from arrangement of pro-Ukrainian anti-war actions in the territory of Russia to direct engagement in the conflict on Ukrainian side.

If we agree with the fairness of the thesis that the "Russian Orthodox army" group presence in the Donbass indicates on "religious fundamentalism" of the "Novorossia," then we must also permit that "religious fundamentalism" is also inherent to Ukraine's side, basing at least on the fact of presence of the Svyata Maria (the Holy Mary) volunteer battalion on our side. The battalion (initially known as the Jesus Christ Company withing the Shakhtarsk Battalion) was created on the initiative of the Brotherhood - a right-wing organisation based on the ideas of Ukrainian nationalism and Orthodox Christian fundamentalism, leaded by Dmitro Korchynsky. Given that it is inherent for mr. Korchinsky to aesthetization and epatage in his statements (often on religious subjects), it would be possible to transform the very fact of existance of the Saint Maria Battalion into something sensational. Just take a several of memorable quotes by Korchinsky, link them to the battalion and here you got the "Ukrainian Christian Taliban."

The image of the Ukrainian or Orthodox, or of the Catholic "fundamentalism", could have been constructed (by analogy with the construction of the image of "Russian Orthodox fundamentalism") even basing on other examples.

For example, the Praviy Sector Ukrainian Volunteer Corps (DUC PS) was created under the significant influence of the Stepan Bandera's Tryzub all-Ukrainian organisation. The Tryzub, in its turn, has always been marked by a special emphasis on the Christian component of Ukraine's nationalism ideology, aggressive anti-secularism, appeals to the Middle Ages, the cult of the Crusades, and commitment to Catholicism. Clearly, the DUC RS was created as a military formation for wider range of people, which provided the rejection of "excessive" ideological and religious exclusivism. Despite this, the dominant and privileged position of Christianity in the DUC has been preserved. Thus, Paragraph 6 of the "General Provisions" of the DUC PS provides the possibility of serving in the structure of persons, regardless of their religion, yet it specifies that non-Christians are prohibited to conduct anti-Christian propaganda (atheism, etc.).

If looking realistically at the current situation, it is not difficult to see that the religious motivation of the units fighting at the Russian side is at least not bigger (or even less) than the religious motivation of Ukrainian fighters. Moreover, it is important to take into account the fact that the Russian curators had comlished the so-called "militia units" mostly from local extreme marginal environment, lumpen (drug addicts, alcoholics, ex-convicts, etc.). It goes without saying that such sort of people have as same relation to the Christian religion in general, as to the philosophy of Konstantin Leontiev, Ivan Ilyin or Pavel Florensky. 

It is clear that religious themes are included into ideological mixes that claim to be official in modern Russia and in the occupied areas of Ukraine. But Christianity does not create the core of these mixes at all. Such a core is rather a vulgar form of imperial patriotism. Moreover, this core infused with the Soviet mythology senses with extremely strong "anti-fascist" accents. The religion for such an ideological mix is nothing but an element of the decoration. 

What's particularly inappropriate here is to represent the fictional "Orthodox fundamentalism" as an opposed to secularism. It is groundless in general to consider the abovementioned example of "Orthodox fundamentalism" as a form of agressive counter-secularisation. At least, if considering it paradigmally,  then only as a specific form of post-secularity. Because post-secularism, the various forms of which we can observe today all-over the world, is not a counter-secularization phenomenon, but its apperation in a new form. The post-secularian paradigm does indeed suggests religion to come out of a ghetto (where it has been driven by secularization), but it requires from religion not only to  refuse some of its basic principles, but also to recognise and accept the norms, concepts and values produced by secularisation. As an example we can recall some of liberal Protestant denominations in a number of Western countries, who have adopted a "tolerant" attitude towards so-called sexual minorities. Instead, Catholics and conservative Protestants continue to remain under a secular pressure.

Quite similar things we can observe in contemporal Russia, which "religious revival" occurs only within the framework of the non-Bolshevik ideological mix. The society, which can easely put portraits of Lenin and Stalin alongside church icons is as far from Cristianity as the society, which tollerate sodomite weedings. To all the above sould be add an extremely high level of secularism of the Christian part of Russian society. Th fact is that the level of religious practice among Russians is wery low, as well as the relevant indicators of moral values. In Ukraine these indicators is positively different comparing to Russia. Even within Ukraine itself, the geography of dechristianization correlates with the geography of Russification (such comparisons can be made both on the basis of religious practice indicators and on the basis of moral markers, such as the AIDS spread level, that is the result of fornication, the number of divorces, the number of abortions, etc.). Those Russians, who came came to fight for Ukraine, have repeatedly noted that they were impressed of religiosity level of people in Central Ukraine, not to mention Western Ukraine, which for them was completely different from Russia.

Against this backdrop, it is the Ukrainian Churches who, by forming the discourse of war, would have to appeal to anti-secular rhetoric, within which Russia will appear in its true form. Unfortunately, such work hasn't been conducted yet.

Mirages of "Russian Orthodox Fundamentalism" must vanish as a fog and those religious scholars who respect themselves should refuse to produce them primarily for reasons of professional honesty. As far as practicing Christians are concerned, they, like no other, should be interested in destroying these false stereotypes. After all, the media image of "conservative Russia" has been using for resent years to cover true landmarks. Ideological anticlericals or simply adherents of some or other unhealthy things actively use the logic "not to be like Russia." But in this case they are unwittingly talking not about true Russia, but about a conservative "horror story" with caricatural "spiritual bounds." Under the current conditions, the destruction of the false image of "conservative Russia" is a significant step on Ukraine's way upwards to God's Truth.