The Slings And Arrows Of Defending A Church In Wartime Ukraine – OpEd


It’s probably not a good use of time responding to Twitter users such as @officejjsmart@JayinKyiv et al., but these people are simply not telling the truth. Lies and dishonesty sometimes should be confronted instead of ignored.

I’m no “pal” of Tucker Carlson. The ony time I’ve ever spoken with him was during that interview. Maybe you should watch the interview and let me know what was so problematic. As I told him clearly, “I carry no water for Putin, I am banned from Russia, I defended one of his biggest enemies.”

I’m not responsible for whatever else Carlson does or says and I certainly don’t agree with all his views, in particular his defense of Putin. Please identify one instance, ever, that I’ve defended or taken Moscow’s side. It has never happened.

I do represent Novynskyi, who is a Ukrainian citizen. The Ukrainian sanctions against him are legally deficient, flatly bogus, and serve as a cover for the theft of his assets. But that’s nothing compared to the extraordinary obliteration of his businesses in Mariupol caused by this horrific war. He’s against this war, the UOC is against this war, and I am against this war – and yet I’m constantly told by these propagandists that I’m somehow a “Russian agent.”

But what am I saying that is that much different from the UN’s statement on 8371? Or the General Synod of the Church of England? Or Forum 18? Are they all “Russian agents,” too? That’s the level of crazed conspiracy theorists we are dealing with here.

Draft law 8371 is an abomination that transgresses all standards of human rights. It’s literally indefensible, which is why they refuse to share it from the Venice Commission and aim to ram it through the legislature without anyone being able to even debate it.

I’ve never misrepresented who I am, who I represent, and what we want to achieve, and have always conducted my advocacy in full compliance with the law. It’s you guys who constantly misrepresent and make false claims, cheering on raids and arrests of journalists, cheering on dodgy expropriations, mobs breaking the jaws of priests, and failing to even make an attempt to explain why Ukraine needs draft bill 8371, why it is necessary to ban a religion with an authoritarian zeal similar to that of the Chinese crackdown of the Uighers. If that’s really your belief, convince us.

What you are failing to see is that this conduct doesn’t help Ukraine, trying to hide it by using the Russia excuse doesn’t help Ukraine. Stopping the harassment of the UOC, respecting human rights and freedom of religion, and elevating our expectations of Ukraine to be a free and democratic rule of law country even in wartime – that is what helps Ukraine, and I am all for it. Enabling lawlessness does the opposite.

Robert Amsterdam

Robert Amsterdam is an international lawyer and founding partner of the law firm Amsterdam & Peroff.

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