Ukraine Divided Geographically On Autocephaly As It Is On Many Other Issues – OpEd


A new poll finds that more than 30 percent of Ukrainians support autocephaly for the Orthodox church in their country, while 20 percent oppose it, but those nationwide figures conceal enormous differences between western Ukraine where people are overwhelmingly in favor and the central and eastern where they are less supportive.

In western Ukraine, the poll carried out by the Kucheriv Democratic Initiative Foundation and the Razumkov Center Sociological Service found that 58 percent support independence for the Ukrainian church, a figure that fell to 35 percent in the central part of the country, nine percent in the south, 10 percent in the east, and 18.5 percent in the Donbass.

In the south and east, the poll reports, opponents outnumber supporters with 24 percent and 28 percent respectively but in the Donbass opponents are outnumbered by supporters who receive 28 percent (

What is perhaps most striking given that this issue has agitated much of the Ukrainian media and political space in recent months is that 35 percent of all Ukrainians say they are indifferent to the issue, a figure that is approximately the same as the share who support this change in the status of the church.

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko has said that Ukraine is close to receiving a tomos of autocephaly from the Universal Patriarch in Constantinople, a development the Ukrainian leader says is essential to the stability of Ukraine. Patriarch Filaret, the head of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Kyiv Patriarchate says this could happen next month.

Paul Goble

Paul Goble is a longtime specialist on ethnic and religious questions in Eurasia. Most recently, he was director of research and publications at the Azerbaijan Diplomatic Academy. Earlier, he served as vice dean for the social sciences and humanities at Audentes University in Tallinn and a senior research associate at the EuroCollege of the University of Tartu in Estonia. He has served in various capacities in the U.S. State Department, the Central Intelligence Agency and the International Broadcasting Bureau as well as at the Voice of America and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Mr. Goble maintains the Window on Eurasia blog and can be contacted directly at [email protected] .

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