Kiev court says bill on forced renaming of Ukrainian Church is illegal, Ukrainian deputy reports

Kiev, April 8, 2019

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The district administrative court of Kiev has declared the actions of the Speaker of the Verkhovna Rada Andrei Paruby in connection with the adoption of the bill on the compulsory renaming of the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church to be illegal on April 5, according to Deputy Vadim Novinsky, a firm supporter of the canonical Church.

Novinsky called the court’s decision a “landmark event” in the modern history of Ukraine, where the court, for the first time, took the side of the public and recognized the actions of the authorities, who are waging battle against the canonical Church, as illegal, reports TASS with reference to the deputy’s Facebook page.

In December, the Ukrainian parliament passed a law that was then signed by President Petro Poroshenko whereby the canonical Ukrainian Church, and a handful of other churches, would be deprived of its rightful name and forced to reregister as the Russian Orthodox Church in Ukraine.

The Ministry of Culture of Ukraine had set April 26, Great and Holy Friday, as the deadline for the Church to rename itself. The Church also brought a suit against the Ministry over the matter.

The Kiev court thus satisfied the claim of Deputy Alexander Dolzhenkov from the Opposition Bloc party, explaining that the authorities tried to forcibly rename the Ukrainian Orthodox Church into the Russian Orthodox Church in Ukraine without taking into account the position of the Church itself, the opinion of the parishioners, or constitutional norms.

The authorities have no constitutional right to interfere in religious matters in Ukraine. The bill on renaming Churches that are supposedly based in so-called “aggressor states” was even put to a second vote in the Rada, against regulations, to ensure that the bill passed, Novinsky writes.

The matter of renaming the UOC has now been removed from the agenda, the Deputy comments, expressing the hope that the matter will finally be put to rest. The court has yet to release an official statement, however.

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