Novozhivotov, Ukraine, January 2, 2020
Though conditions have improved for the canonical Ukrainian Church under President Vladimir Zelensky, the schismatic nationalist activists of the so-called “Orthodox Church of Ukraine” have not given up their efforts to force parishes and people into their schismatic structure.
Police in the Vinnitsa Province recently opened criminal proceedings after OCU activists brutally beat several clergymen and laymen while attempting to seize the Holy Protection Church in the village of Novozhivotov, reports the Union of Orthodox Journalists.
The attack occurred in the night of December 28 to 29, while the canonical faithful of the church were still carrying out their round-the-clock vigil to protect their church that began after the schismatics changed the locks on the church.
According to the local dean, Archpriest Dmitry Tsmokalo, three cars of schismatic activists, who appeared to be inebriated, pulled up to the church at about 11:30 PM, shouting threats of “Let’s go kill the Moscow priest!”
There were five canonical priests and five laymen present who went to guard the doors of the church when the activists arrived. According to Fr. Dmitry, the activists started shining their flashlights in the priests’ and laymen’s eyes and then started beating everyone.
They beat and shoved one young priest who had to have his lip sewn up in the hospital, and Fr. Peter, the rector of the Holy Protection Church, was thrown down the steps and kicked by the schismatics. One layman had his nose broken and also had to have his lip sewn up in the hospital. He stated that the activists were beating the canonical clergy and faithful with brass knuckles.
Several other laymen were beaten as well.
The schismatics fled when the police were called to the scene. The officers later spoke with the attackers, though they denied their participation in the crime.
The next day, four priests from the local deanery came and served the Sunday Liturgy at the Holy Protection Church, and faithful laity came from throughout the region to prayerfully support the community.
Activists appeared again during the Liturgy and cursed and insulted the Orthodox faithful in the presence of police officers.
The schismatics earlier agreed not to serve in the church until the local courts could come to a decision about it, though they broke this agreement on December 22 and illegally changed the locks on the church.