The UOC, through the courts, is seeking an investigation into the capture of temples, the attacks continue

The UOC, through the courts, is seeking an investigation into the capture of temples, the attacks continue

After the creation of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine (OCU) with the active support of President Poroshenko, the cases of temples being captured, religious communities being attacked, summonses for interrogation being sent out, and the clergymen of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (UOC) being accused of inciting religious hatred against do not stop. Representatives of the UOC submit statements about violations to law enforcement bodies and try to achieve the launching of an investigation through the court.

Thus, on March 8th 2019, the Rovno city court refused the request of the Prosecutor and investigator of the SBU to choose a measure of restraint for Archpriest Viktor Zemlyany, head of the Department for Solving Inter-religious Disputes of the Rovno diocese of the UOC, who is being accused of inciting inter-religious strife. On March 15th SBU officers interrogated the priest of the UOC, and as a result he was given a notice of suspicion under article 161 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine. The priest himself in his video message claims that he did not violate any laws of Ukraine, and considers the investigative actions against him are designed to intimidate and pressure the Ukrainian Orthodox Church.

On March 28th the Ivankovsky district court of the Kiev region ordered law enforcement officers to investigate crimes committed against parishioners of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin temple of the UOC in the village of Ivankov. According to lawyers, before filing a lawsuit, members of the religious community of the temple submitted 3 statements to the police concerning the illegal actions of OCU activists, but the documents were ignored. On the basis of a court decision, law enforcement officers must investigate crimes related to preparations for capturing the temple and obstructing worship.

And on April 3rd the Vasilkovsky district court of the Kiev region also ordered law enforcement officers to enter information about an attempt to capture the temple of the UOC in the village of Radadovka - which was committed by activists of the OCU with the participation of the head of the local Village Council - into the Unified Register of Pre-trial Investigations (URPI). This crime falls under article 180 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine (preventing religious ceremonies).

A similar situation was recorded in Lutsk. Since the Prosecutor did not submit information to the URPI regarding violations of the rights of the UOC community of the village of Sadov, the court, having considered the claim of the community, ordered the employee to start an investigation in connection with the offense. On February 6th 2019 the priest of the Kazan Icon of the Mother of God temple of the UOC in the village of Sadov in the Lutsk region Archpriest Vladimir Meles addressed to the Prosecutor of the Volyn region with a statement about the violation of the rights of the community, in accordance with which a pre-trial investigation was supposed to begin.

At the same time, according to the press service of the Volyn diocese, Archpriest Rostislav Sizhuk, abbot of the Svyato-Blagoveshchensky temple of the UOC, challenges the decision of the Rakovo-Lesky Village Council to seal off the temple and hand over the keys to the village leader in the Volyn district administrative court. Earlier, on February 27th 2019, the Rakovo-Lesky Village Council of the Kamen-Kashirsky district of the Volyn region adopted a decision "On the consideration of declarations of religious communities", according to which it granted the village leader permission to seal off the Svyato-Blagoveshchensky church of the village of Rakov Les and the territory of the church, including the auxiliary premises.

At the same time, conflicts over temples and new cases of attacks on temples continue.

In particular, on March 24th 2019, in the village of Tovtry in the Zastavnovsky district of the Chernovtsi region activists of the OCU tried to capture the Svyato-Uspensky temple of the UOC. There was a fight. Believers called the police and submitted a statement with law enforcement bodies about the fact of a provocation. The press service of the Chernovtsi-Bukovinsky diocese of the UOC noted that the conflict would not have reached such proportions if it wasn’t for the participation of the "servants" of the new church structure – "archpriest" of the OCU in the Zastavnovsky district Vitaly Menzak and another "priest".

On March 30th 2019 a number of activists of the UAOC/OCU in the village of Yasinya/Plytovaty in the Rakhovsky district of the Transcarpathian region came to the house where the priest of the local Svyato-Preobrazhensky temple of the UOC Archpriest Ioann Tkach lives and threated to forcefully evict him. As was reported by Yasinyansky deanery of the diocese of Khust of the UOC, if there is "disobedience", supporters of the new church structure threatened the priest and his wife with arson.

On the same day, in the temple of the Svyato-Pokrovsky parish of the UOC in the village of Mnyshyn in the Rovno region, an official of the Goshchansky district administration who openly supported the UOC-KP beat up a believer. According to eyewitnesses, the Deputy Chairman of the Goshchansky regional state administration Taras Gomenyuk on March 30th came to the temple of the UOC of the village of Mnyshyn to discuss the possibility of alternating services. Representatives of the Kiev Patriarchate and believers of the UOC first talked in the middle of the temple, and when the negotiations did not give the desired result – they went out into the street. There was already a verbal altercation, after which the official began to beat up a man – a believer of the UOC. Gomenyuk failed to accuse the believer of committing an offense, since one of the parishioners recorded the incident on their phone.

A few incidents with the participation of officials of the Rovno region took place on April 2nd. Thus, in the Dubrovitsky district activists, with the participation of officials, cut the locks and illegally entered two temples of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church. These actions were preceded by illegal registrations in the regional administrations of the communities of the UOC using the same registration data as the parishes of the UOC. A during the capture of the Svyato-Pokrovsky temple in the village of Berestye in the Dubrovitsky district of the Rovno region, which took place with the support of the police and officials of the regional state administration, the activists cut the locks of the temple with a circular saw and beat several of the parishioners of the UOC.

In addition, on the night of March 29th 2019, unknown persons broke a window and entered the temple of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul of the Boryspol diocese of the UOC in Bucha in the Kiev region. According to the abbot of the temple Archimandrite Arkady (Demchenko), even the Alter and the icon of the blessed virgin "Quick to Hear" were attacked by thieves-vandals.

On January 31st law No. 2673-VIII "On amendments to some laws of Ukraine on the subordination of religious organizations and the procedure of the state registration of religious organizations with the status of a legal entity" came into force in Ukraine. In accordance with the new version of the Law, the decision to change subordination and make appropriate changes or additions to the Charter should be made with no less than 2/3 of the number of members of the religious community (membership criteria should be prescribed in the statutes) that is necessary for the recognition of the General Assembly of the religious community in accordance with its Charter (regulation). Also, all religious organisations will have to re-register their statutes within a year.

The human rights activists of "Uspishna Varta" note that even after the entry into force of the new version of the Law, such "transitions" are usually accompanied by acts of aggression against parishioners and priests of the UOC committed by radical "activists" and the exertion of administrative pressure by local officials.

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