Moscow, April 18, 2016
Priests of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church are subjected to regular attacks by radical nationalists and persecutions of the Ukrainian Security Service, coordinator of the Human Rights Advocacy Group on Information about Crimes against Humanity Maxim Vilkov said.
"We have registered about 30 such attacks, including not only attacks and illegal detentions, but trials and even murders," the human rights advocate said at the additional OSCE session on Human Dimension Implementation held in Vienna.
According to him, some UOC clerics were forced to leave Ukraine as nationalists and security services threatened them.
Vilkov also focused on arsons of Orthodox churches. "We registered 13 such cases. Arsons of Orthodox churches occur most often in Kiev. Lack of punishment for these crimes is very demonstrative," he said.
The expert also reported at least 36 attempts at seizing UOC churches taken in 2014-2015.
The human rights advocate urged the OSCE Monitoring Mission to pay special attention to all these cases and recommended including new provisions regarding protections of rights of religious communities in the list of OSCE monitoring criteria of observing human rights in Ukraine.
He also suggested holding a forum under OSCE auspices dedicated to manifestations of violence and hatred in Ukraine on confessional and jurisdictional characteristic as a factor influencing escalation of the Ukrainian conflict.