The faithful of this village have become a certain symbol of confession of the faith in Ukraine. To Ptichie have come European journalists and commissions from the OSCE;1 videotapes of schismatics beating up the faithful by the walls of Dormition Church the adherents of Philaret Denysenko’s schismatic organization had seized were filling the news on the internet and TV. A number of different court cases have gone on at various levels, and the church was under arrest for two years.
Finally on April 2 of this year the Dubna court decided to remove the arrest from the church building. It would have seemed that a page was turning in the tragic life of this village. But a chronicle of the following events testify to the opposite.
Here is how the rector of the parish in Ptichie, Archpriest Grigory Stadnik evaluates these events:
—Recently the enmity between the inhabitants of the village had begun to calm down. People began to say “hello” to each other and mingle as they used to do. I did not hear any mean-tempered criticism aimed at me from the adherents of the “Kiev Patriarchate”. But on the internet there appeared new calls for another seizure of the church. Militant “Aidara” and “Azov” bands burst into the church and at gunpoint threw our women out onto the street. One of our parishioners, handmaid of God Maria, received a concussion. Regrettably, the police did not help them at all.
Two years ago, despite the fact that the church was sealed, the schismatics hung new locks and barred the windows. The Lord helped us to enter the church without hindrance through the side door. For a long time we served night Liturgies on Thursday to Friday, and in the morning the faithful departed to their own homes to rest before the workday. Our faithful guarded the church around the clock.
Apparently the main initiators of these new provocations remain the so-called “dean of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church Kiev Patriarchate” Igor Zagrebelny and the head of the Dubna regional council Alexander Kozak. As we know, this pseudo-priest had been expelled from the Volhynia diocese of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church for having two wives,2 but was accepted by Philaret as one of his “clergymen”. This is a popular practice among the schismatics. Zagrebelny found a kindred soul in the regional council head and actively worked with him in his war against the canonical Church in Dubna region. Despite all the difficulties and trials, our parishioners remain faithful to canonical Orthodoxy, the faith of their fathers and grandfathers.
Great Saturday, which coincided with the Annunciation of the Most Holy Theotokos, we made a cross procession around our martyric church, and the children let loose white doves—doves of peace. And may God grant that peace would finally reign in our country and in our village of Ptichie. We believe that truth will triumph and we will serve in our ancient church as we did before.
The Lord Jesus Christ commanded us to be joyful in times of persecution, and we feel and see that He is with us also in these holy days; and no one can take our Paschal joy away from us.