Footage (1,2,3) recorded in a church which shows that people inside deliberately causing noise by using drums, chairs, pots and other items has gone viral in social networks. The footage includes the claim that it was recorded in Ukraine. Such claims were also promoted by the Russian media and Russian-speaking Facebook users (1,2,3,4).

Ukraine’s Orthodox Church has been one of the primary targets of Russia’s propaganda machinery for years. Since Ukraine’s Orthodox Church gained autocephaly, the disinformation campaign has become particularly robust. The pro-Kremlin media sought to link Ukraine’s Church and its gaining of autocephaly with an operation planned by the US Central Intelligence Agency and plans to promote LGBT politics in Ukraine.

In 2022, in the wake of Russia’s full-scale aggression against Ukraine, Ukraine’s Orthodox Church has increasingly become a spotlight for purveyors of disinformation. Through targeting Ukraine’s Orthodox Church with disinformation messages, local malicious actors are seeking to portray the Ukrainian authorities as enemies of the Orthodox faith and portray the Ukrainian nation as unbelievers. FactCheck has already verified a number of items of fake news in this regard (1,2,3,4,5).

In regard to the aforementioned viral video, the claims disseminated in social networks and the pro-Kremlin media gives the impression that Ukraine’s Orthodox Church holds “satanic rituals.”

In fact, this claim is false and is a continuation of the Kremlin’s anti-Ukraine propaganda. The footage which is disseminated in social networks was in fact recorded in Katerini, Greece. This is confirmed by identical pieces of footage published by Greek-speaking accounts on YouTube and Instagram (1,2,3). Captions of all these videos indicate that they were recorded in Greek city of Katerini.

Of note is that footage shows the church tradition of Holy Saturday before Easter when parishioners use drums, chairs and pots from their homes and other items to make noise in church. According to the tradition, such an action on the part of believers and clergymen is related to Jesus Christ’s victory over evil forces. Similar rituals on Holy Saturday are held in Egypt and Cyprus.

Therefore, the claim that the disseminated footage shows a liturgy in a Ukrainian church is false. The footage was recorded in Greek city of Katerini and is related to the church tradition of Holy Saturday before Easter.

In order to identify the particular church where the ritual took place, FactCheck has reached out to Greek colleagues and the article will be updated in line with new information.


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