Nadia Bazuk

Nadia Bazuk's OpEd: How Fethullah Gulen's Followers Interfere in Church Affairs

Gulen’s movement may be involved in a church issue in Ukraine, some details show. Let’s try to study the facts and find out whether it’s true or not.


Kharkiv, Ukraine -- (ReleaseWire) -- 06/01/2018 --Who is Fethullah Gulen and why is he considered a terrorist in Turkey?

Preacher and former imam Fethullah Gulen is one of the most influential clerics in the Islamic world. Gulen's movement, known as Hizmet, has more than a thousand schools in 180 countries. Until 1999, Gulen was a close friend of Turkey's current President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, but a conflict between them urged him to flee from the country and move to the US. From that moment, he became Erdogan's main adversary. In 2015, Turkey put Hizmet on the list of terror organizations under the name of the Gulenist Terror Organisation (Fethullahc Teror Orgutu, FETO). In 2016, FETO was named responsible for the July coup attempt. After that, massive purges against Hizmet's followers were initiated in Turkey and other countries, including Ukraine.

According to the Turkish news agency Anadolu, two FETO educational organizations and a news site Ukrayna Haber operate in Ukraine. Ukrayna Haber's editor-in-chief and founder is a Gulen follower Yunus Erdogdu, who worked at Turkmenistan's Zaman newspaper, which promotes Hizmet's ideas, and later became a correspondent for the Turkish opposition news agency Cihan in Ukraine.

What does Gulen's movement have to do with the church?

Back in 2016, the Turkish media revealed information about close ties between the Ecumenical Patriarchate of the Orthodox Church in Turkey and Fethullah Gulen. In particular, the media focused on good personal relations of Patriarch Bartholomew and the preacher. For almost two years, there have been no visible signs of FETO attempting to influence religious organizations. However, a peculiar detail has recently emerged.

On April 9th, during his visit to Turkey, the Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko met with Patriarch Bartholomew at his residence in Istanbul's Fener quarter to discuss the bestowal of autocephaly (independence) to the Ukrainian Orthodox Church.

Turkish media seem to have ignored the Fener negotiations, but it were Ukrainian news outlets that covered the event in Turkish. One of the first news pieces was published at Yunus Erdogdu's site.

The piece also included photos and a video that had been uploaded to the website of the Administration of the Ukrainian President about an hour before. The Ukrayna Haber's and the Administration's footages seem to be identical but the video uploaded to the news site is about forty seconds longer.

Albeit Yunus Erdogdu's site has published no news on the topic since then, it looks like someone was about to disseminate the information on the visit of Ukraine's leader to the Fener. If it were Ukrainian government officials, why did they choose such an anti-Erdogan website? And if it were Gulen's followers, it means they are up to foster the negotiations between Kyiv and Constantinople and have close ties with the President's Administration. But what can be their goals?

Read more:

About Nadia Bazuk
Nadia Bazuk is a freelance journalist from Ukraine with an MBA degree. Her writings have been published by, OCP Media Network,, Union of Orthodox Journalists and others.