The religious dimension of the EuroMaidan protests in Ukraine these past two months has gone largely unremarked. Yet in Kiev and elsewhere, the day’s activities at these oases of civil society are punctuated with prayers offered by clergymen of a variety of Christian communities: Orthodox, Greek Catholic, Protestant. That fact in itself says something about the nascent civic community that is being born in Ukraine today. Ecumenical fellow-feeling and cooperation have not been a prominent feature of Ukrainian religious life in the past. Yet now, with the future of the nation (and no small part of the future of Europe) being contested amids snowstorms, tent cities, flying universities, and police brutality, Ukrainian Christians have discovered a common cause: the moral and cultural renewal of Ukraine, which the brave men and women of the various EuroMaidans understand is essential to free politics and free economics in the future.
But if most Western observers have been inattentive to the religious dimension of the EuroMaidan phenomenon, attention has been paid by the thuggish government of Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych. Thus the latest episode in the unfolding EuroMaidan struggle for Ukraine’s future involves a governmental move eerily reminiscent of the height of Stalinism in the old USSR.