This is an interview from January 5, 2022, before Russia’s military operation in Ukraine, which began February 24. Fr. Andrei Tkachev is from Lvov in western Ukraine. He was serving as the priest of a church in Kiev during the Maidan revolution, and therefore he is qualified to speak about events in Ukraine. Fr. Andrei did not support the violent revolution that resulted in the overthrow of the Ukrainian government, and his and his family’s lives were threatened because of his outspoken stance. He now serves in Moscow.
—The Russian Church has helped the Serbs and Serbian monasteries in Kosovo many times. You know that we are constantly challenged there. For example, the Visoki Dečani monastery—they [the Albanians] don’t want to return what rightfully belongs to the monastery. Despite the court ruling by the so-called Kosovo court, they defy its decision.
—We’re dealing with a very difficult adversary in this case. The Albanians are rather peculiar adversaries and, of course, we can’t hope that they will treat the Serbs with any sincerity or sympathy. Besides, Europe indulges the Albanians. None of that would have happened if Europe hadn’t turned a blind eye to the Kosovo Liberation Army, its ethnic crimes, and the expulsion of Serbs from homes in their ancestral lands. It is basically what Europe should deal with directly. Ideologically the European Union, and collective Europe, is the killer and the mastermind behind these crimes. As for the Albanians, they were simply used as an axe or a knife in the hands of the Europeans. It was the Europeans who inflicted a wound on the Serbs, not the Albanians. It was the Europeans who, like you said earlier, see the Serbs as some kind of an obstacle to their global plans in Europe or the whole world. They realize that the Serbs don't fit, that they are somewhat different. They think differently, their history differs, they want other things in life, and on top of everything else they are friends with Russia for some reason... That’s why they inflicted a deep wound on the Serbs using the Albanians as a sharp weapon. It is exactly how America is setting up Ukraine to act against Russia. Ukraine is not an independent actor in this situation, it acts as a brass knuckle, or an axe or a stick in the hands of a tough mobster. Ukraine isn’t a tough mobster. It is merely a stick in the mobster’s hands. So, we are dealing with a huge geopolitical gamble and are caught up again in the twists and turns of history.
—Is Europe undergoing the process of de-Christianization, and why is it dangerous?
—It isn’t going through the process, as it has been de-Christianized already. This process will continue to grow and expand, but it is such an awful thing because Europe was enriched by its faith throughout the centuries. Faith has been Europe’s greatest treasure. It was only much later, and owing to its faith, that Europe had its universities, civil rights and everything else it boasts. Once it abandons faith altogether, it will lose everything it has acquired. These processes in Europe are akin to suicide. We will witness it, as it is going to happen before our very eyes; we’re going to see it. The difference is they will never understand why it is happening. Recently, in Offenbach, Germany, there was pornography exhibition that displayed Orthodox icons (again, in the German town of Offenbach!) with genitalia replicas attached to them. Why? Well, according to the city mayor, it is an example of freedom of expression.
—Yes, “performance”. That is, “we have the right to express any opinion and we cannot forbid it”. So, if we read next in the news that the city of Offenbach has been washed away by flooding, let’s not be surprised—they had it coming! That's how its mayor may finally get it when something happens, God forbid. May they live long, but if something happens... Anything may happen: they might freeze this winter, and then disappear next spring along with melting snow. Or, it could be an earthquake, fire, or anything else. But then don’t ask why. When Europe is engulfed in conflagration and insanity levels grow to the ultimate degree, when it will slowly disappear and die in agony—please don’t ask what for. Europe chased Jesus away. It simply kicked Jesus Christ out, banishing Him from the European house. Anti-Christians, active anti-Christians, seized power. They’re intolerant of Christianity, they’re not saying, “Well, you can believe in it or not”. They mock Christ. They chase Christ off. They hate Christ for some reason. And they don’t understand that once Christ steps outside their European door and slams it shut... Just as He told the Jews, Behold, your house is left unto you desolate (Mt. 23:38; Lk. 13:35)… Life in Europe will be intolerable. We will no longer recognize it. We already can’t recognize it. Those who visited Europe on occasion, or have had the opportunity to compare how the things were in the 1970s or 1980s with Europe of the twenty-first century, can tell you how the Europe they knew has become a different place.
—This is interesting, against the background of Christmas, they want political correctness and inclusiveness [using Muslims as an excuse]; while on the other side of the border, in Poland, we see how non-inclusive—even cruel—they are towards Muslims.
—Well, first of all, they didn’t ask the Muslims whether they wanted to celebrate Christmas, because the majority of Muslims treat the Nativity of Jesus Christ with respect. They even have their own “the Messiah’s birthday” [he says it in Arabic.—Trans.]. That’s how they call the Nativity of Christ in Arabic, the birthday of the Messiah. As a matter of fact, they are non-aggressive about this holiday unless they are some kind of Taliban or, say, ISIS. Radical Islam is probably against it, while ordinary Sunni Muslims, more frequently represented here in Europe, don’t think negatively about it. No one bothered to ask them. This is how Europeans use tolerance as a cover-up. They cover up their hatred for Christ with words of love for Muslims, foreigners, Hindus, or atheists. It’s an excuse. So, yes, they have expelled Jesus Christ, even from the language. They have forbidden people to say “Merry Christmas!” and tell them to use “Happy holidays!” instead. What holiday? What is it all about?
—Well, it’s only a suggestion for now.
—No, it’s already turned into law in some countries, and it’s formally approved there. Well of course it’s heart wrenching. But when the ground is going to crumble under their feet, don’t ask what for.
—Well, let’s hope that this will allow Europe to wake up, after all.
—It may. It is possible, but I have little faith in it.
—You know that we lost our Patriarch Irinej. You were talking about Metropolitan Amfilohije and his achievements in Montenegro. You met and talked to them. What are your memories of them? How will they be remembered in the history of Orthodoxy?
—You haven’t lost anyone. We bid farewell for the time being, but we will meet again. We will see all of our patriarchs and metropolitans. Vladyka Milutin also passed away during this COVID-19 pandemic. Their work will speak for them. Vladyka Milutin used to say: “Since I am one of Milutins”—Milutin was a prince who vowed to build churches and monasteries every year—there was to be a new church built for every year he was on his episcopal throne... So, he was adding to his Church all his life. The fruit of their work is what remains. The Montenegrin Metropolia; the Montenegrins and the Serbs are praying for Vladyka Amfilohije. Everyone remembers him. A documentary about him is about to hit the theaters. I think it is going to be called “Heavenly Swallows.” Nothing changed—you had Patriarch Irinej and Patriarch Pavle. All the Serbian patriarchs are together, God willing, and continue their heavenly Liturgy.
—Yes. How about our new Patriarch Porphirije—have you met him yet?
—Not yet, because, first of all, we had the pandemic and I have not yet had the chance to visit your country.
—There will be other opportunities, God willing.
—Maybe by next Christmas [this interview took place just before last Christmas]… What do you wish for Serbia and the Serbian people?
—First of all, I wish that every Christian soul would know that the Son of God came into this cold, strange, and beautiful but cruel world and we are not alone. My wish is that every soul would feel the power of Christ coming into the world. Christ is ever in front of us, behind us, to our right and to our left; Christ is above and underneath us. Christ is omnipresent. But we have to keep our faith in God. We have to reach the cave of the Nativity during these last days and venerate the Child Jesus along with the wise men. As for the gifts, we have to bring the following: make peace with your enemies, your neighbors, and loved ones so that no one would be angry anymore. We must repent of the sins we have committed recently and partake of the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ. We should visit the graves of our deceased family members and proclaim, “Christ Is Born!” Let their bones also hear that the Lord is with us. We must also live a godly life. We have no greater enemy than sin. If we stage a battle against sin with Christ as our helper, we will attain happiness. Therefore, have a merry Christmas, dragi Srby (“dear Serbs” in Serbian.—L.C.)!
—We say: Christ Is Born! And then respond: Truly He is Born!
—Christ Is Born! Yes.