Konotop, Sumy Province, Ukraine, May 5, 2022
According to a new order from the mayor of Konotop, the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church has been banned in the city.
Mayor Artem Semenikhin claims that the Church “threatens national security.”
Unfortunately, this is only the latest in a series of such votes and orders throughout Ukraine since the fratricidal war began in late February. In March, two bills were submitted to the Ukrainian Parliament to ban the Church throughout the entire country.
The Konotop mayor is a notorious member of the far-right nationalist Svoboda party, which has been involved in attacks on the canonical Church for years. A 2019 Times of Israel article referred to Semenikhin and Svoboda as “neo-Nazi” and “anti-Semitic.”
“There’s no difference between the enemy and it’s agent. And in the case of the Moscow Patriarchate, it’s two in one,” the head of the Sumy Province city writes about the new order. “Therefore, I decided to ban the activities of this FSB agency network on territory of my city.”
In the order, Semenikhin accuses the UOC of “anti-Ukrainian activities” by running Russian propaganda in its churches, and thus bans the Church “in order to consolidate Ukrainian society and prevent a split in Konotop communities on religious grounds.”