Zolochev, Ukraine, July 16, 2020
Public officials from the city of Zolochev and the Lvov Province are publicly calling for the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church under His Beatitude Metropolitan Onuphry of Kiev and All Ukraine to be driven out of the city, and for the local priest’s house to be vandalized.
The mayor of Zolochev, Igor Grynkiv, called for people to gather on Tuesday evening in protest of the UOC and its faithful in the city.
“Only together will we be able to hold off the Moscow invasion,” said the mayor, who earlier swore there will never be a UOC parish in his city.
The Union of Orthodox Journalists contacted the local canonical priest Fr. Maxim Yoenko, who was accused of building a church under the guise of a private residential building. Let them gather, the priest said, because everything regarding his home is legal.
The city government is attempting to demolish the fence and gate at his house, because it allegedly stands “behind the red line,’” though the entire territory is his private property, Fr. Maxim said.
The threats come just days after Fr. Maxim’s house was graffitied with threatening racist and nazi slogans because he held a prayer meeting for his parishioners who are not allowed to build any other church.
A day before the mayor made his call, Miroslava Babinskaya, a Deputy of the Lvov Provincial Council, stated that all representatives of the UOC must be expelled from Zolochev, since they won’t leave themselves.
“Our fight against the Moscow aggression in Zolochev continues, because the Moscow Patriarchate is the aggressor in our city,” Babinskaya told reporters, referring to the use of Fr. Maxim’s house as a church. Appeals have already been made to numerous law enforcement agencies she said, “with the requirement to immediately respond to this construction and the invasion of the Moscow Patriarchate in Zolochev.”
Babinskaya even proposed declaring the Moscow Patriarchate illegal in Zolochev at a recent City Council session. She earlier stated that she is certain that the UOC “glorifies Putin and blesses weapons, and kills our Ukrainian defenders.”
His Grace Bishop Viktor of Baryshevka, the head of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church’s representation to European International Organizations, has noted that the situation in Zolochev is a clear violation of the right to religious freedom and a clear manifestation of hatred for the UOC and its people, and that the matter could come under international scrutiny.