Kiev, December 5, 2022
The National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine imposed sanctions upon nine bishops of the Ukrainian and Russian Churches and one protodeacon last week for a period of five years.
The full list of sanctioned clergy is published in the addendum to the Council’s decision “On certain aspects of the activity of religious organizations in Ukraine and the application of personal special economic and other restrictive measures (sanctions),” which was officially implemented on Thursday by President Vladimir Zelensky’s decree 820/2022.
The decree also instructs that a bill be submitted to Parliament to ban any religious organization associated with the Russian Federation, that the statutes of the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church be inspected for any connection with the Moscow Patriarchate, and that the legality of the presence of the canonical Church in the state-owned Kiev Caves Lavra be investigated.
The sanctions list includes:
Protodeacon Vadim Novinsky. For many years, he served as a Parliamentarian Deputy and always sought to defend the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church, which seems to have made him a target despite the fact that his charitable foundation has fed thousands throughout the war and donated medical equipment and ambulances to hospitals.
Metropolitan Pavel of Vyshgorod and Chernobyl, abbot of the Kiev Caves Lavra. Although Met. Pavel and the Lavra no longer commemorate Patriarch Kirill in the Divine services, thus supporting the decisions of the UOC’s Council in May, politicians and schismatics continue to attack the monastery, and a scandal erupted around it last month after a video was published online of some women singing a song about the spiritual revival of Holy Rus’ in one of the Lavra churches.
Metropolitan Lazar of Simferopol and Crimea. All Crimean dioceses of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church were received directly into the Russian Orthodox Church in June.
Bishop Kallinik of Bakhchysarai, vicar of the Simferopol Diocese—also now a hierarch of the Russian Church.
Bishop Alexei of Dzhankoy and Rozdolne—another Crimean hierarch of the Russian Church.
Archbishop Arkady of Rovensky and Sverdlovsk. The Rovenky Diocese was also received directly into the Russian Church in October.
Metropolitan Elisey, formerly of Izyum and Kupyansk. On September 28, a temporary administrator of the diocese was appointed, and on November 23, Met. Elisey was officially released from the administration of the diocese and retired by the Holy Synod of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church. There are reports that he has been in Belgorod, Russia, since September.
Bishop Joseph, formerly of Romny and Buryn. He was also released from the administration of his diocese and retired on November 23. The state authorities accuse him of having visited Russia during the war and of having a Russian passport.
Bishop Agafon of Koktebel, vicar of the Diocese of Theodosia—another Crimean hierarch of the Russian Church.
Metropolitan Platon of Theodosia and Kerch—a Crimean hierarch of the Russian Church.
Sanctions include various limitations related to finances and traveling.
Protodeacon Vadim believes the sanctions are nothing more than religious persecution. He responded:
I regard the decision of the National Security and Defense Council to apply personal sanctions against me as persecution for my religious beliefs. There are no other grounds for imposing sanctions.
For many years now, I have been under pressure for my principled support for canonical orthodoxy in Ukraine and my charitable assistance to the Ukrainian Orthodox Church.
I consciously accepted Ukrainian citizenship and am a patriot. I have always advocated for peace, the preservation of Ukrainian statehood, and the territorial integrity of Ukraine. The businesses of which I am a shareholder makes a significant contribution to the economy and defense capability of Ukraine.
The Constitution of Ukraine guarantees freedom of religion, and I exercise this right as a believer and protodeacon of the UOC—a Church that unites millions of Ukrainian citizens and acts legally.
Considering the sanctions illegal persecution due to religious beliefs and consistent support for the UOC, I will challenge their application in Ukrainian and international courts.