Kiev, June 27, 2022
250 churches of the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church (UOC) over the past three months have been seized by supporters of the schismatic “Orthodox Church of Ukraine” (OCU) with the support or tacit consent of officials.
Every day the list increases of Ukrainian regions where officials and deputies resolve to ban the activities of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church. Meanwhile, representatives of the “OCU”, supported by the authorities, seize yet another church, commit provocations or intimidate priests and parishioners of the canonical Church. However, the author of the bill banning the Ukrainian Orthodox Church in the country, Inna Sovsun, continues to express dissatisfaction with the fact that the Cabinet of Ministers has not yet adopted this law; moreover, it “does not see legal grounds for taking the lavras from the Church.”
Thus, on June 20-21, 2022, Metropolitan Anthony of Boryspil and Brovary, the managing director of the UOC, sent letters to the Primates and hierarchs of a number of Local Orthodox Churches, informing them about the egregious actions of the authorities in the Boryspil diocese and in Ukraine as a whole.
Bishop Anthony said that in his diocese, “By decision of five city and village councils, under pressure from the local leadership and ignoring the opinions of true parishioners, populist and illegal decisions were made to ban or terminate the activities of the UOC on the territory of these communities.” In general, there are 36 such cases in Ukraine.
Also, the managers of the UOC in his letter drew attention to the fact that throughout the country there are actions of forcible seizure of churches of the UOC by supporters of the schismatic “Orthodox Church of Ukraine”.
“In total, 250 churches were seized, and there are only 53 cases of tranfers. Attempts to “transfer” this or that parish to the mentioned denomination are nothing more than open church raiding, and this is done openly in favor of the “OCU”. Despite the latter's supposed declarations about readiness for dialogue, the aforementioned hostile actions continue in real life, which make it impossible begin any dialogue,” Metropolitan Anthony noted.
The letter emphasizes that priests and believers of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church in many villages and small towns are forced to equip temporary premises for worship and file lawsuits in the courts, while a small number of people attend worship services in selected churches. All these decisions to ban the UOC and the seizure of churches by supporters of the “OCU” are taking place in order to sow division and hostility between Ukrainians on the ground and provoke them into violent conflicts, thereby undermining the integrity of the country from the inside.
It should be noted that on June 13, the deputies of the Boryspil City Council at an extraordinary session decided to “suspend the activities of the UOC-MP”. The question was submitted for consideration by the mayor of the city Vladimir Borisenko. Moreover, the City Council made such a decision without further discussion.
The deputies immediately appealed to the head of the Boryspil district military administration to issue a corresponding order.
On June 23, deputies of the City Council in Cherkasy supported a petition to ban the UOC, as reported by i-ua.
30 deputies of the Cherkasy City Council supported the decision to ban the UOC, several people said that local governments do not have the authority to prohibit the activities of the Church. There was also a proposal to appeal to the parishioners of the UOC, “so that they do not carry their funds there.”
On June 17, the Borshchev City Council of the Ternopil region demanded that the UOC community and the rector of the church in honor of St. Nicholas go to the “OCU”.
The appeal is published on the webpage of the Borshchevsky City Council. In particular, it says that the UOC acts as a propaganda tool for the so-called “Russian world”.
Also, the mayor of Chortkov, Ternopil region, V. Shmatko, addressed in a video address to the parishioners of the UOC church with an urgent appeal to announce his withdrawal from his jurisdiction.
The mayor noted that it would be better if the parishioners did it publicly, but he does not insist, it is important to him that no one goes to the church of the UOC. Otherwise, the official promises that he will ask for the help of citizens so that the priest of the UOC will no longer hold divine services in the “so-called church”.
At the same time, representatives of Svoboda in the Ternopil region have already started collecting signatures in support of bill No. 7204 “On the prohibition of the Moscow Patriarchate on the territory of Ukraine.”
And in the village of Kolodnoye, Zbarazhsky district, Ternopil region, “priests” and supporters of the “OCU” tried to seize the church of the UOC of St. Nicholas the Wonderworker.
The video was published on her page by lawyer and human rights activist Victoria Kohanovskaya. The video shows how the “believers” are dragging parishioners away from the church and throwing them to the ground, as well as beating men who are trying to protect their holy places.
The temple was defended, but the chairman of the OTG set the task – “to transfer to the ‘OCU’ all the church in the UOC Zbarazhsky district.” Of the 12 temples, only two have not yet been touched.
On June 14, at a regular meeting of the Lvov Regional Council, deputies adopted a statement calling on the state to legally prohibit the activities of the UOC on the territory of Ukraine. The statement is published on the official website of the regional council.
“We, the deputies of the Lvov Regional Council, realizing our responsibility to the voters of Lvov region, consider the continued existence and activity of the UOC in Ukraine in general and in Lvov region in particular unacceptable. Guided by the provisions of the Constitution of Ukraine, the laws of Ukraine <...>, we call on the state to legally prohibit the activities of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church,” the statement reads.
And a few days later, on June 19, in the Sykhov district of Lvov, the Church of Holy Prince Vladimir, Equal to the Apostles, was again attacked by vandals. This was reported by portal.lviv with reference to the State Emergency Service of the Lviv region.
According to the parishioners of the church, the fire broke out at 22:45, 15 minutes before curfew. Eyewitnesses testify to the sounds of an explosion before the fire.
A bucket of liquid, a stick with a cloth, a lighter, a jacket and a cap were found at the scene of the fire. The police seized the evidence.
Recall that the St. Vladimir Church has long been a target for local vandals: on April 25, a man with a firearm announced the demolition of a church building, on May 1, radicals tried to disrupt the service, on May 8, vandals filled the entrance doors of the temple with foam, and desecrated the walls with inscriptions, on May 15, unknown people tried to set fire, crossed out crosses and left inscriptions, “no entry”. Also, the walls of the long-suffering church were desecrated with inscriptions on May 25 and 28.
On June 16, deputies of the Belotserkovsky City Council of the Kiev region, at the suggestion of a representative of the European Solidarity party, adopted an official appeal to President Zelensky and the Verkhovna Rada with a request to ban the UOC.
In turn, the clergy and believers of the Belotserkov diocese near the Transfiguration Cathedral of the White Church performed a prayer stand on June 18, according to the press service of the diocese.
Believers gathered for a prayer stand to express their rejection of attempts to incite hostility on religious grounds, which are being undertaken by schismatics from the “OCU” with the support of local authorities.
On June 19, clerics and believers of the UOC from all corners of the Khmelnytsky region, from whom the “OCU” raiders took away churches, held a prayer service in front of the building of the Khmelnytsky regional administration.
This was reported on lawyer and human rights activist Victoria Kohanovskaya’s webpage. She remarked: “We have lived to see that day, when we have to pray before the regional administration that in the ungodly state seats they would realize the truth.”
In the village of Chernizh, Volyn region, the community of the St. Michael's Church has been resisting the “OCU” raiders for more than two weeks, as reported by bug.org.ua .
Local residents of the geographical community decided at an illegal meeting to transfer the St. Michael's Church of the UOC to the ownership of the “OCU”. On Trinity Saturday of the Commemoration of the dead, supporters of the “OCU” with their “priest” came to the church with the intention of starting a provocation.
The supporters of the “OCU” explained to the parishioners that they needed a “Ukrainian church”, to which they received the answer that the St. Michael's Church is the Ukrainian Orthodox Church. The believers of the UOC said that the stand will continue until “their issue is resolved.”