Kiev, October 31, 2016
The chief goal of bill no. 5309 is the creation of discriminatory norms for millions of Ukrainian citizens who belong to the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church (UOC-MP), said the chairman of the Synodal Legal Department Archpriest Alexander Bakhov, commenting on the new legislative initiative of the elected representatives of the people to the UOC-MP’s Information and Education Department.
On October 26 the Verkhovna Rada (the Ukrainian Parliament) registered bill no. 5309 “On Amendments to the Law of Ukraine ‘On Freedom of Conscience and Religious Organizations’ as Regards the Names of Religious Organizations (Associations) Which are a Part of the Structure of a Religious Organization (Association), Whose Administrative Center is outside Ukraine—in the State Which, as Recognized by the Law, Committed Military Aggression against Ukraine and/or Temporarily Occupied a Part of the Territory of Ukraine,” reports the Orthodox Life portal.
The draft law’s initiators, Deputies Igor Brichenko, Alexander Briginets, Ivan Krulko, Yaroslav Markevich, Sergey Vysotskiy and Igor Lapin, have motioned to compel the religious organization, whose administrative center is in the state that has been recognized by Ukraine as an aggressor state, to indicate in its name the full statutory name of the foreign religious organization to which it belongs, with the possible addition of the words “in Ukraine” and/or an indication of its place in the structure of the foreign religious organization.
In the view of Archpriest Alexander Bakhov, “this is another absurd bill through which its authors are endeavoring to discriminate against the UOC-MP and the faithful of our Church”.
“The deputies constantly forget that all the religious organizations are equal before the law, and restrictions such as these are, first of all, infringements of the rights and freedoms of the Ukrainian citizens who are members of the religious organization against which such initiatives are aimed,” the archpriest stressed.
“Yes, the state has recognized an aggressor country. But what does this have to do with the UOC-MP? They think the center of our Church is in Moscow, but it’s not. Our center is in Kiev. According to the Charter (Tomos), signed by Patriarch Alexey II in 1990, the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church has nearly full administrative independence from the Synod of the Moscow Patriarchate. They take their wish for reality and deprive the UOC-MP of its independence, subordinating it to the ROC? And what is then to be done with the Tomos of 1990?” Archpriest Alexander Bakhov noted.