Pyatigory, Ukraine, August 14, 2019
OrthoChristian recently reported on two incidents where radical supporters of the schismatic “Orthodox Church of Ukraine” (OCU) attempted to violently seize parishes of the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church, beating priests, parishioners, including women, and policemen in the process.
Both of these incidents occurred on Sunday, while just a few days before, another priest of the canonical Ukrainian received an eviction letter from schismatics, giving him and his family a month to leave their home of 27 years in the village of Pyatigory in the Rivne Province, reports the Ukrainian Orthodox Church with reference to the page Rivne: Voice of the Church.
The priest, Fr. Viktor Dovbenyuk of the Church of the Nativity of the Theotokos, is also suffering from cancer.
Fr. Viktor received the notice by registered mail on Friday, August 9, stipulating that he had to leave the church property that had been seized by schismatic OCU supporters.
The letter was sent by the initiator of the conflict over the parish, who is now the chairman of the schismatic parish council, Igor Schebet. In it, the schismatics propose that Fr. Viktor and his family leave within one month, “because this house is needed as the residence for the priest of our community.”
The letter asserts that the schismatic community owns the house. The faithful of the canonical Church contend that the documents for privatization were prepared in circumvention of the law.
Representatives of the Bureau of Technical Inventory appeared in the church yard two weeks ago, but Fr. Viktor did not allow them to take measurements on the property, because criminal proceedings surrounding the church and its properties are underway and will soon go to court. “So I don’t understand what grounds there could be for the house to belong to another community,” Fr. Viktor said.
On April 20, Lazarus Saturday, OCU supporters came to the church under the pretext of holding an evening service in the church yard, though it turned out their true intention was to break in and seize the church. The raiders seized the church as the schismatic “priest” was celebrating a “service.” The seizure was led by Schebet, reports the Union of Orthodox Journalists.
The church had earlier been sealed by local authorities because of the inter-religious conflict. There was an agreement that neither the canonical nor schismatic community would enter the church until the dispute was resolved in court, though the OCU continually violated this agreement. In particular, Schebet and other OCU radicals attempted to break into the church on April 17, though the faithful were able to prevent them at that point.