Rector of seized church: Schismatics have 37 supporters, we have 500

Priputni, Chernigov Province, Ukraine, April 8, 2021

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On April 4, members of the Svoboda (Freedom) nationalist terrorist organization seized the Nativity of the Theotokos Church in the village of Priputni in the Chernigov Province.

According to the canonical rector of the church, the schismatics had tried about a dozen times to steal the church from the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church. They have also gone to Fr. Sergei’s house to scare him and his family, and, given their extreme nationalism, they have accused the priest of being an FSB agent.

In 2019, a vote was held in which 37 people, most of them having no connection to either the church or the village, voted to transfer the church to the schismatic “Orthodox Church of Ukraine” (OCU).

Meanwhile, the canonical community is 500 believers strong.

The schismatics are led by a “Hieromonk” Leonty, who is under suspension as a former cleric of the Ukrainian Church. He is also serving a suspended sentence for producing and possessing weapons, and there have been many complaints against him of molesting children, reports the Ukrainian Orthodox Church.

As parishioners told the Union of Orthodox Journalists, the raiders replaced the church locks with their own under cover of night, and the following day, Sunday, they entered the church, thanks to the inaction of the police. About 20 people were involved in the seizure, some of whom were recognized as having participated in church seizures in other villages in the region.

The Svoboda nationalists did not hide the fact that they were being paid to seize and guard the church.

The schismatics immediately placed an OCU sign and a Ukrainian flag on the church.

The Nativity of the Theotokos Church has been the target of schismatics many times. In September 2019, violent thugs beat the rector Fr. Sergei and a female parishioner, who had to be hospitalized, though the Orthodox faithful were able to defend their church at that time.

In his comments for Orthodox Life, the canonical rector Fr. Sergei emphasized that between the two villages that use the church, the canonical Church has more than 500 faithful. Meanwhile, in 2019, the OCU activists held an illegal vote with all of 37 people, most of whom don’t even live in Priputni.

The village recently collected 300 signatures in defense of the canonical Orthodox Church.

The Orthodox faithful were again blocked from celebrating Liturgy in the church yesterday on the feast of the Annunciation.

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