Andrei Lemeshonok and Alexander Lukashenko at St. Elisabeth Convent
Picture of Nicolas


BY 2023.02.22 A strange Orthodox convent situated near Minsk increases its influence on Belarusian politics each year.

Странный православный монастырь, расположенный недалеко от Минска, с каждым годом усиливает свое влияние на белорусскую политику. Вопреки всем христианским и гражданским принципам, его администрация оправдывает насилие и все больше отрицает независимость Беларуси.

Orthodox Convent in Minsk influence on Belarusian Politics

In recent years, St. Elizabeth women’s convent, situated in the suburbs of Minsk in Novinki, has been mentioned more and more often, not in the context of spiritual life but in the context of politics. Also, the convent’s administration obviously has huge problems with such notions as conscientiousness, justice, and honesty.

Events of the Belarusian revolution started in August 2020 and divided not only the Belarusian society but also the Orthodox Church, its priests, and laymen. Some of them preferred to understand the words of the Apostle «All power is from God» literally. Others dared to speak up against injustice and defend the truth. The path of the second one has become more difficult as the Belarusian Orthodox Church (BOC) makes part of the Moscow Patriarchate, i.e., of the Russian Orthodox Church (ROC). It means criticizing the Belarusian regime means contradicting the Patriarch Kirill of Moscow. A deed that, to put it mildly, is not welcome. If the laymen are free not to come to sermons or choose churches with «good» priests, not to pray for the Patriarch and the Metropolitan, or at least not to call any of them «master and father», then the situation of priests is much more complicated and dependent.

Andrei Lemeshonok and the Covid Outbreak at the Monastery Easter 2020

Andrei Lemeshonok St. Elisabeth Convent-Minsk

The «spiritual father», but in fact, the master of the St. Elizabeth convent. Already in December 2020, Andrei Lameshonok was awarded the Order of St. Cyril of Turov of the II degrees of the Belarusian Orthodox Church, and then his career prospered nicely. Not modestly nicely. After all, the St. Elizabeth Convent is also a huge commercial organization. With its own production facilities and well-established global trade relations, with its own laws. The first and most important of which is unquestioning obedience to Lemiashonak.

On November 22, 2020, at a meeting with the nuns, having given the floor to a female employee and then noticing that she was raising the issue of young people beaten by the OMON, Lemiashonak rudely interrupted her by the phrase «fuck you» and began showering traditional propagandist clichés like «the OMON saved the country», «enforcers got beaten on a mass-scale», «if not for Russia and its help, where would we be?», «Everything was almost ideal in Libya with the dictator Gaddafi», «the only president for the people,» and so on. The main point was that the parents of peaceful protesters violently beaten by the OMON had to repent that they had raised such children.

Not long ago, on Christmas, Aliaksandr Lukashenka visited the convent expressing profound satisfaction with the politics held there. In his Sunday sermon that followed the holiday, Archpriest Andrei Lemeshonok could not but recall the visit Aliaksandr Lukashenka had paid to the convent on Christmas. Although there was no reason to resort to that topic, the preacher found it anyway:

It should be mentioned that such politicization and obvious partisanship of Lemiashonak for a long time has been causing discontent among the parishioners, who reasonably believe that a priest should serve God and not the sovereign. As far back as August 2020, the parishioners and the employees of the St. Elizabeth convent wrote a collective appeal to the Metropolitan Pavel of Minsk and Zaslavel, Patriarchal Exarch of All Belarus.

In particular, they said: «In his conversations, appeals, and sermons, Andrei Lemiashonak openly speaks about his own personal, civic stance, about the political situation not only in our country but in the world. His sermons have turned into political information classes. Often, in his sayings, Andrei Lemiashonak involves unconfirmed and unproven facts. …

Nevertheless, it looks like the closeness to the regime has become a sort of indulgence for Andrei Lemiashonak: there have never been any ecclesiastical penalties against him. Quite on the contrary: he continued to «lick» the secular power with even greater zeal.

It’s enough to listen to the sermons of priests of monastery and convent churches with their constant mentioning of Vladimir Putin and «unified Russia». Or to see how the St. Elizabeth convent supports (not only spiritually but also financially) the Russian troops invading Ukraine. Moreover, Andrei Lemiashonak’s own son, Dmitry Lemeshonok (Lemeshonok), regularly appears at the convent wearing T-shirts with the symbol of DPR and the inscription «White Russia», or a sport coat with the inscription «Russia».

Dmitriy Lemeshonok (ДмитрийЛемешенок) - Andrei Lemeshonok's son

Andrei Lemeshonok’s son, Dmitry Lemeshonok, with his idol Adolf Hitler in the background

In addition, meetings with a person who presented himself as a «lieutenant colonel from the Russian GRU, Anton Manshin, were held at the convent. Usually, his speeches are a series of war stories that have nothing in common with reality and are closely mixed with the propaganda of the «Russian world». «There is no international terrorism.  Do not believe in that myth spread by the mass media!» Manshin interleaves his stories and prayers with political slogans.

Our House 2023.02.22

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