Rivne, December 11, 2018
An internet flash mob was launched on Sunday, December 9, by Archpriest Vasily Nachev in support of the canonical Ukrainian Church and of his fellow Rivne Diocese priests who were summoned to the Security Service of Ukraine (SSU) for interrogation within the framework of incitement of religious enmity and hatred and, strikingly, treason, reports the Union of Orthodox Journalists.
In response, the names of the participating priests were added to the government database on the Peacemaker (“Mirotvortes”) website that compiles and publishes the personal information of those it deems to be “enemies of Ukraine.”
The website deems the SSU’s interrogations and charges against the priests to be “God-pleasing.”
Fr. Vasily, the head of the Rivne Diocese’s Social Department, wrote on his Facebook page: “I, Archpriest Vasily Nachev, a priest of the UOC, am starting a flash mob in support of the holy Church and my fellow priests, whom the SSU in the Rivne Province summoned for questioning, including myself. By this we will show our faithfulness to the Mother Church and its primate His Beatitude Metropolitan Onuphry and that we are not afraid of pressure and intimidation.”
In the accompanying video, Fr. Vasily also offers to post photos on Facebook with the text “I support the UOC—I’m ready to be summoned to the SSU.”
Fr. Vasily’s initiative was supported by numerous Facebook users, including clergy and faithful from throughout Ukraine, who showed their love and support for the priests who are being pressured and persecuted by the Ukrainian state.
14 priests were interrogated by the Rivne Province SSU on December 5 as part of charges of inciting religious hatred and state treason, His Grace Bishop Pimen of Dubenske, the vicar of the Rivne Diocese revealed. The charges were later confirmed by SSU Press Secretary Innia Ilyuchok.
Little is known of the interrogations as the priests were forced to sign confidentiality agreements, though it is known that Ukrainian law enforcement officers had seized copies of the pamphlet The Ukrainian Orthodox Church: Relations with the State. The Attitude Towards the Conflict in Donbass and to the Church Schism. Questions and Answers from many of the priests.
In response to the love and support of the priests participating in the online flash mob, their names and personal information has been published by the scandalous Peacemaker (“Mirotvorets”) website that is curated by the SSU.
The priests are accused of the “manipulation of information of public interest” and are accused of being “opponents of the independence of Ukrainian Orthodoxy.”
Fr. Vasily was the first to be added to the database, followed by the others who supported his initiative. Their pictures were reposted on the Peacemaker Facebook page with the cynical note, “We want to help them in their desire to wind up at the SSU.”
In another post they write: “OUR DEAR SSU!... We are delivering [this priest] to you not for the sake of self-interest, but only out of respect for your righteous and God-pleasing labors. May God save you.”
As OrthoChristian has previously reported, a number of hierarchs from the Ukrainian Church, and from other Churches, have been added to the website, including His Beatitude Metropolitan Onuphry of Kiev, His Eminence Metropolitan Paul of Vyshogorod and Chernobyl, the abbot of the Kiev Caves Lavra, His Eminence Metropolitan Vladimir of Pochaev, the abbot of the Pochaev Lavra, and even His Holiness Patriarch Irinej of Serbia.
The government links to the Peacemaker website are explained in detail in this article.
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