On Thursday, Macedonian media reported that the Macedonian Appellate Court confirmed the first instance ruling against Archbishop Jovan Vraniškovski of Ohrid and Metropolitan of Skopje. He’s serving a three-year prison sentence on charges of embezzling 250,000 Euros (11.85 million Roubles. 339,000 USD. 363,000 CAD. 360,000 AUD. 198,000 UK Pounds). The Appellate Court also confirmed the probation for 18 followers of Archbishop Jovan, including his mother and sister, on charges of aiding the embezzlement. Previously, the second instance court denied Metropolitan Jovan’s appeal as unfounded and found him guilty of embezzlement of funds that he used to purchase land in Ohrid during his mandate as a bishop of the non-recognised Macedonian Orthodox Church (MPC). Macedonian media reports stated that the Appellate Court’s decision is crucial for further talks with the Serbian Orthodox Church (SPC) on canonical recognition of the MPC. A court in Skopje sentenced Archbishop Jovan on 2 July 2013 to three years of imprisonment and he appealed the decision in November. In keeping with the ruling of the Skopje Criminal Court, the authorities seized 4.9 million MKD (3.78 million Roubles. 108,000 USD. 116,000 CAD. 115,000 AUD. 80,000 Euros. 63,000 UK Pounds) from the bank account of the Association for Enhancement of Civil and Religious Freedoms in the village of Nizepolje near Bitola to the benefit the canonically non-recognised MPC, the damaged party. Archbishop Jovan said in the appeal that the ruling is discriminatory and was political, adding that the verdict is also unclear and lacked a single piece of tangible evidence backing it. The appeal Archbishop Jovan filed in the Skopje Appellate Court stated that the Macedonian authorities persecute the Orthodox Archdiocese of Ohrid in various ways, even though 12 years have passed since its establishment, adding that the government denied request of the Archdiocese to have formal registration, whereby it’d be a legitimate religious organisation, to this day.
Since 2003, Macedonian authorities arrested Archbishop Jovan six times, on different charges, including public disorder when he tried to conduct a baptism in a church the MPC sees as its own. The authorities also charged him with “inciting ethnic and religious hatred” for having “slandered the MPC” and he spent a total of almost 18 months in prison. Then, the Veles Basic Court sentenced him to 2.5 years of imprisonment for alleged tax evasion in the period during his mandate as a MPC bishop. His last arrest was on 12 December 2011, upon entering Macedonia from Greece, on charges of embezzling 250,000 Euros. He returned to the country to request a retrial, but the authorities arrest him and took him to Idrizovo prison near Skopje, where he’s still being held. His defence team said that he’s detained under very difficult conditions.
The MPC is canonically non-recognised, and the SPC considers it schismatic since it declared autocephaly unilaterally in 1967. The MPC defrocked Bishop Jovan, but the SPC appointed him as Serbian exarch in Macedonia, leader of the Orthodox Archdiocese of Ohrid. The SPC believes Archbishop Jovan is a victim of rigged political trials because of his being against the schism, whilst Amnesty International and Freedom House said that he’s a prisoner of conscience.
18 July 2014
Archbishop Jovan’s persecution is due to American pressure, full stop. The main opponent of Serbia (and Russia) in the government at present is Joe Biden, whose mentor was an unrepentant Croat Ustaše RC priest. Close behind him is John McCain, who hates Russia for the fact that a Soviet SAM shot him down (McCain was a reckless cowboy who disregarded all prudent advice from seasoned combat vets… he paid the price). In light of the American government’s nasty war against Serbian and Russian Orthodoxy, Orthodox people have to really think twice about serving the USA (we shouldn’t obstruct the US government, refuse to pay taxes, or any such other unhinged shit… all that’d do is land you in prison)… ergo, Lyonyo is a traitor for being part of the CFR… Potapov is a traitor for being part of Radio Liberty… Paffhausen is a traitor for his incestuous ties to most of the rightwing stink-tanks on K Street. Have a care, the times are evil… Archbishop Jovan’s persecution is proof of that.