By Efi Efthimiou
Verkhovna Rada called on the Interparliamentary Assembly of Orthodoxy (IAO) and the parliaments of its member states to “terminate the powers of the current IAO president and the powers of the state representatives that subsidize terrorism in its governing bodies.”
The IAO, the 30th General Assembly of which began its work today in Halkidiki, is an inter-parliamentary institution created on the initiative of the Hellenic Parliament, in which (institution) participate Orthodox religiously-minded parliamentarians from Albania, Armenia, Bulgaria, Georgia, Greece, Estonia, Cyprus, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Belarus, Lithuania, Moldova, Poland, Romania, the Russian Federation, North Macedonia, Serbia, Montenegro, Slovakia, the Czech Republic, Ukraine, and Finland as well as groups of parliamentarians from Australia, USA, Asia, and Africa.
The IAO is chaired by Sergei Anatolyevich Gavrilov Serget Anatolevich, a member of the Russian Duma who is under sanctions from the 27 EU countries, the UK, the US, Canada, Switzerland, Australia, Japan, New Zealand, and Ukraine.
Questions, therefore, arise as to how an EU-sanctioned Member of the Russian Parliament can preside over an organization whose members belong to (mostly) European parliaments.
Verkhovna Rada, according to a document obtained by the Orthodox Times, informs the IAO that it cannot, for this reason, allow its members to participate in the general assembly of the IAO in Halkidiki.
It calls on the IAO to firmly condemn Russia’s armed attack on Ukraine and to expel the Russian Federation from the IAO immediately.
It also calls on the IAO to begin work on amending the IAO Rules of Procedure in order to align them with the contemporary realities of Orthodoxy worldwide, to protect the principles of equality, human rights, and democracy, in particular with regard to the revision of the structure of the governing bodies and the powers of the IAO President, “which are very broad and restrict the rights of its members, as well as the imposition of severe sanctions on the participants in the General Assembly, whose activities run counter to the spirit of the IAO”.
He reminded the IAO of the statement of Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew in Abu Dhabi on December 10, 2022, in which he referred to the war in Ukraine and strongly criticized the exploitation of the Church by the Putin regime in the war in order to divide the Orthodox world, saying that “the Russian Orthodox Church stood by the Putin regime” and that “the neo-imperial regime, which had to be strengthened, attracted what seemed to him to be its precious political capital: the religious feeling of the Russian citizens.”
We recall that in March 2022, shortly after the start of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the IAO had met, with the Russian delegation participating via teleconference.
At that meeting, the Secretary General of the IAO and a member of the Greek Parliament, Maximos Charakopoulos, had reacted to the presence of a member of the Russian delegation in a t-shirt with the emblem of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the letter “Z”, requesting the MP’s departure or change of clothes in order to continue the work of the General Secretariat, as it did.