Priputni, Chernigov Province, Ukraine, April 21, 2021
“Archbishop” Evstraty Zorya of the schismatic “Orthodox Church of Ukraine” (OCU) served in the Church of the Nativity of the Most Holy Theotokos in the village of Priputni in the Chernigov Province recently.
Although the service was meant to be a celebration and show of force after finally seizing the parish from the Orthodox Church, as seen in photos posted by the OCU Speaker Zorya, there were only about 20-25 people present at the service on Saturday, besides the visiting clergy.
On the other hand, the canonical Orthodox community, from whom the church was recently violently seized, numbers about 500 faithful. According to Zorya, his services are so sparsely attended because of COVID measures.
He writes that he visited the church by invitation of the schismatic rector “Archimandrite” Leonty Pustovoit and the religious community. As the canonical rector Fr. Sergei explained, in 2019, a vote was held in which only 37 people, most of them having no connection to either the church or the village, voted to transfer the church to the schismatic OCU.
The schismatics then attempted about a dozen times to physically seize the church, finally succeeding on April 4, with the help of the right-wing nationalist group Svoboda.
On the other hand, Zorya claims that the majority of the representatives of the religious community voted for the “transition” to the schismatic group.
“However, judging by the photos published by him, there are very few people at the ‘Divine service,’ especially if you take into account the fact that the speaker of the OCU brought a ‘miraculous’ icon with him to Priputni,” comments the Union of Orthodox Journalists.
According to the fake bishop, public order was provided during the “service” by the National Police, with the support of “patriotic activists and veterans of the Russian-Ukrainian war.”
In another post from Zorya, one user comments that, “As always, there are fewer people than priests.” Zorya responds brusquely: “Perhaps you haven’t noticed that quarantine restrictions have been introduced in Ukraine?”