Photographs depicting soldiers burning icons are disseminated in the social networks (link 1, link 2, link 3 and link 4). According to one of the publications, this happened during Zelenskyy’s presidency in Ukraine. The authors of the publications claim that “blasphemous” West and its “puppet” Ukraine fight the Orthodox Church: “[Globalists-capitalists] seek to force Ukrainian people surrender everything and perpetually turn them into weapons to reach their aims.”
Most of the publications in the social network manipulatively uses the aforementioned photographs, arguing that shots were made in 2022. This is wrongly linked with the ostensible decision of the Government of Ukraine, claiming that Ukraine plans to come forward with religious initiative to identify and prevent Russian special services’ diversionary actions in the religious environment.
Based on Google reverse image search, origins of the photographs lead us to the Italian and Russian websites where those photographs are used in articles published in 2015. Since photographs are dated 2-2015, it means they have no relation with the Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s presidency and Russia’s full-scale military aggression in Ukraine in 2022. The aforementioned websites attribute icon burning to the troops of Azov battalion.
In regard to the claim that “Zelenskyy’s regime” fights Orthodoxy as a religion and plans to ban Orthodox churches, it is not true.
On 1 December 2022, President Zelenskyy signed a decree on enforcement of decision of National Security and Defence Council which envisions ending activities of Russia-linked religious organisations. In his speech on 2 December 2022, the President stated that the document makes government obligated to prepare a draft law on ending activities of religious organizations linked with influence centres in the Russian Federation in two months and submit it the parliament. As stated by the President, all bodies responsible for national security should work more robustly to identify diversionary actions of the Russian special services in Ukraine’s religious environment and impose personal sanctions. According to Mr Zelenskyy, this and other decisions will safeguard Ukraine’s spiritual independence.
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