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CHURCHES AMONG THE BIRCHES: RUSSIA VS UKRAINE

CHURCHES AMONG THE BIRCHES: RUSSIA VS UKRAINE

What’s God's is God’s, what’s Caesar’s is Caesar’s, and what’s Ukraine’s is no longer Russia’s.


That, at least, is the view of Patriarch Bartholomew I, the Istanbul-based leader of more than 300 million Eastern Orthodox believers, who last week moved to grant the Ukrainian church independence from Russia for the first time in 300 years.

This is a spiritual matter with distinctly worldly implications – after all, just four years ago Russia annexed Crimea and backed an insurgency that continues to grind on in Ukraine’s east. Many Ukrainians, including this feline atheist, view the independence of the Ukrainian church through the lens of their country’s ongoing struggle against Russian influence.

Ukraine’s president, Petro Poroshenko, has seized on the issue as a way to boost his dismal approval ratings ahead of next year’s presidential election. Over the weekend, he hailed the decision not only as a prayer answered, but as an issue of national security and as a critical component of the European future he imagines for his country.

Meanwhile the Kremlin, and the closely-aligned Russian Orthodox Church, are furious. For one thing, independence for the Ukrainian church could cost the Russian church about a third of its parishes there. But more broadly, Moscow sees itself not only as a defender of Orthodox believers everywhere, it views the lands of Ukraine with special zeal as the cradle of the Russian Orthodox faith. In fact, that’s one of the reasons Putin ordered the Russian invasion in 2014.

The issue is so critical for Russia, in fact, that Putin summoned a security council meeting about it over the weekend. And Russia’s Orthodox leaders have now explicitly rejected Patriarch Bartholomew’s decision, in a move that could spell Christianity’s biggest schism in a thousand years.

Ominously, the Russian government has also claimed the right to intervene in Ukraine to protect the interests of the Orthodox church there, in terms surely meant as a warning to Ukrainians both in office and in church. Keep a close eye on this in the coming weeks, as tensions could flare sharply on the ground.

Meet Alessandra Cominetti, a recipient of MIT Technology Review Magazine's Innovators Under 35 award. As a lab technician at Eni's Research Centre for Renewable Energy in Novara, Alessandra has devoted her career to finding new solutions and materials to optimize solar energy. Much like the serendipitous encounter that resulted in her employment, her eagerness and willingness to try new things allowed her to stumble upon a material for the creation of portable solar panels.

Watch her remarkable story on the latest episode of Faces of Eni.

"If [the election] is very close and it ends up in the courts, that kind of protracted situation I think will lead many Americans to believe that it was an unfair election." Rick Hasen, election law expert and author of Election Meltdown, lays out some of the worst-case scenarios for Election Day, ranging from unprecedented voter suppression to dirty tricks by foreign actors. The conversation was part of the latest episode of GZERO World with Ian Bremmer. The episode begins airing nationally in the US on public television this Friday, October 30. Check local listings.

Joe Biden has vowed to radically change the US' approach to foreign policy and international diplomacy should he win next week's election.

But a lot has happened in four years under Donald Trump that could impede Biden's ability to simply return to the status quo ante. How different would US foreign policy really be under a Biden presidency? What will the two-term former vice president likely be able to change, and what's bound to remain the same, at least for now?

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On Wednesday, November 4 at 11a EST, we're gathering a panel to discuss "What Just Happened" with the US election. GZERO Media's Ian Bremmer, Tony Maciulis and Alex Kliment will be joined by The Washington Post's Karen Attiah and Eurasia Group's Jon Lieber. Watch live at: gzeromedia.com/gzerolive.

Decision 2020: What Just Happened? Wednesday, November 4, 11a EST/8a PST

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Bookmark this link to watch live: gzeromedia.com/gzerolive

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Jon Lieber, Managing Director for the United States at the Eurasia Group, shares his perspective on a special US election edition of US Politics In 60 Seconds:

So, we're about five days out from the election right now.

And the story of this week has been the remarkably steady polling lead for Joe Biden that he's had for months now. The other big story is the turnout, massive amounts of turnout. 100% of the 2016 vote already cast in Texas. 60% nationwide votes already cast. We are headed for record shattering turnout, could be around 155 million Americans voting.

On election night, what are we watching for?

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