Kiev court suspends forced renaming of Ukrainian Orthodox Church

Kiev, April 22, 2019     

According to a bill passed by the Verkhovna Rada and signed into law by President Petro Poroshenko, the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church had until Holy Friday, April 26, to rename and reregister itself as the “Russian Orthodox Church in Ukraine,” given the Ukrainian government’s lack of understanding of Church governance.

As all of the Church’s administrative and legally-binding documents define its administrative center as being located in Kiev, the Church brought a lawsuit against the Ministry of Culture on the matter. On April 5, the district administrative court of Kiev declared the actions of the Speaker of the Verkhovna Rada Andrei Paruby in connection with the adoption of the bill to be illegal.

Today, the district administrative court also suspended the process of forced renaming of the Church, reports the court’s press service.

“The district administrative court of the city of Kiev considered the application for securing the claim in the case of cancellation of the order of the Ministry of culture of Ukraine, according to which the Kiev Metropolis of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church and a number of religious organizations should make changes to their official names and submit the appropriate changes to their statutes for registration by April 26, 2019,” the message reads.

The court granted the UOC’s claim, taking into account the fact that the change of name could significantly complicate or make impossible the restoration of the UOC’s violated rights. According to the judges, changes to the name of the UOC before the court’s decision in the matter could lead to unjustified interference from the state in the affairs of the Church as a legal entity.

However, the court also notes that the adoption of the measures to secure the claim does not represent the actual resolution of the dispute, as it is aimed solely at preserving the existing situation until the completion of the case on the merits.

Note that the court also involved 265 religious organizations as third parties in the case.

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