Kiev, November 14, 2017
Law enforcement agencies opened criminal proceedings on Thursday for the violations of the rights of believers of the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church that took place during the All-Ukrainian Cross Procession which was held in July 2016, reports the Information-Education Department of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church.
Relevant statements to law enforcement were provided by the NGO “Public Advocacy.”
“Considering that the rhetoric of hatred on religious grounds is a socially dangerous phenomenon,” according to advocates from the NGO. We have sent official statements to law enforcement agencies to provide the state system a reason to begin an official investigation.”
The All-Ukrainian Cross Procession for Peace weaved its way throughout the country from Donetsk to Kiev from July 3 to 27. Tens of thousands joined in the procession at various points, with 30,000 gathering for the ending prayers on St. Vladimir Hill in Kiev.
As repeatedly reported in Ukrainian and international media, believers of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church were blocked by aggressive people in the city of Boryspil during the All-Ukrainian Cross Procession. The thugs shouted and threw various objects at the peaceful believers. These actions were also accompanied by threats against those participating in the march.
The provocateurs even began throwing items at the wonderworking Svyatogorsk Icon of the Mother of God. Archpriest Sergei Taran was later awarded for protecting the icon by removing his vestments and using them to cover the icon.
“How is it possible to throw anything at her? It’s crazy. We had no words when we saw it. We saw how Batiushka, walking near the icon, removed his phelonion and covered the icon with it. It was his best phelonion… I later said to him on the phone, ‘Batiushka, may God grant that as you covered the Mother of God with your robe, so the Mother of God will cover you during your earthly life and at the Dread Judgment with her pure omophorion,’” Metropolitan Arseny of Svyatogorsk said during the presentation of the award.
“Public Advocacy” notes that such aggressive actions from the opponents of the procession should be qualified as crimes, according to article 161 of the Ukrainian criminal code. Lawyers also note that the investigation will be supervised within international monitoring procedures.