Mikhalcha, Ukraine, December 15, 2020
Investigators of the local police department have opened four criminal proceedings following the incident that occurred on Saturday, in which 50-100 violent schismatics from the “Orthodox Church of Ukraine” attempted, but failed, a violent takeover of Holy Dormition Church in the village of Mikhalcha in the Chernivtsi Province.
The faithful have been holding a round-the-clock prayer watch at the church since February 2019, after the schismatics first tried to seize the church. Now, it has also been taking under round-the-clock police protection, reports the site of the National Police in the Chernivtsi Province.
After clarifying the details of the incident, the police confirmed that on the morning of December 12, an attempt was made to seize the church. The local diocese of the schismatic OCU and local media had tried to claim that the men simply came to pray.
The police also confirmed that the attackers “partially damaged church property,” “one of the parties in the conflict used tear gas and an irritating agent against the other,” and that “the gates of the church were partially damaged” in the process of de-escalating the situation.
The four criminal cases opened involve the violation of the equal rights of citizens based on race, nationality, religious beliefs, disabilities, or other grounds; attempted criminal offense; the illegal seizure of the property of an enterprise, institution, or organization; and the illegal handling of weapons, military supplies, or explosives.
The police seized brass knuckles from a 19-year-old participant in the incident, the police report states.
“Police officers have taken the place of worship and the surrounding area under round-the-clock protection and continue to ensure public safety and order near the church,” according to the report.
During the incident, the violent schismatics destroyed the outer door to the church, though they were unable to break through the reinforced doors into the nave. They also attacked the rector with a shovel and tear gas.