Russian ideologists have been working in full swing attempting to obstruct the rise of the independent Ukrainian Orthodox Church, employing a number of local loyalists of the Russian church like Luka, a Metropolitan of Zaporizhia and Melitopol, who recently called the granting of Tomos on autocephaly to Ukraine a "satanic project."
However, the confrontation is also ongoing at a more global level, where real "heavy artillery" in the shape of Russian propaganda is required. As part of its ongoing efforts, Moscow recently launched a new fake story alleging a corruption scandal involving Ukrainian leadership and that of the Constantinople top clerics, which Russia claims will lead to the Constantinople delegation not coming to Ukraine to celebrate a 1030th anniversary of the Baptism of Rus, according to Information Resistance non-government OSINT group.
The message Russia is trying to spin is that Ukraine allegedly tried to "bribe" Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew with $25 million given by some unnamed donors.
The interesting point the investigators stress is that the source of this "news piece" was the journalist of the notorious RIA Novosti Ukraina, who has been distributing pro-Russian propaganda on the internet under the alias of Diana Mikhailova. It was her platform on Livejournal that initially started spinning the thing about "$25 million" with a nuance added that at least $15 million was "appropriated" by the Ukrainian president.
This spin was happily picked up by some "unbiased" Ukrainian media, which are becoming increasingly open in their intentions to sow public distrust in authorities – the issue that is becoming more relevant as the election campaign approaches.
Rather expectedly, Russian propagandist outlets also started dispersing the fake, already referring to those Ukrainian websites. However, the Russian-crafted pieces focus on tarring Patriarch Bartholomew personally, claiming that he was "offended" by the Ukrainian side over the fact that "not the whole sum has gotten through".
Propagandist pieces go on to "conclude" that, for the same reason, the granting of Tomos for Ukraine may face "big problems."
It should be noted, beyond all obvious inconsistencies in this "story," that it is not the first fake story that finds its start from "Diana Mikhailova."
It was with her participation that a recent fake emerged about the "faulty Javelins" the U.S. allegedy supplied to Ukraine. Before, she span materials discrediting the Ukrainian Armed Forces and Ukraine as a whole.
Information Resistance notes that now, "the GRU [military intelligence] of the Russian Federation ordered the "expert" to delve into religious topics, however, the overall anti-Ukrainian tone remained the same."
The said fact and, especially, the way how such information is picked up and spread by false resources, indicates that the Russian Federation continues to harbor hopes that Ukraine will fail to obtain autocephaly, the Ukrainian OSINT experts say.
"The stakes are rising, and proven methods are being used to achieve the goals, because, as they say, Russian propaganda has acted and continues to operate according to the principle of "it is easier to smear someone than to wash off dirt, so more 'credible' and 'competent' spins by Mikhaylova and the like are yet to come," they conclude.