Moscow and Kiev, January 17, 2023
Through its permanent representative to the UN, Vasily Nebenzia, Russia has requested a special meeting of the UN Security Council to discuss the persecution of the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church.
“In this country, with the connivance of the collective West, the Zelensky regime has turned into an authoritarian dictatorship, which in itself is a significant obstacle to peace. Recently, the persecution of dissidents and opposition leaders has been supplemented by the desire to destroy the only canonical Church in Ukraine—the Ukrainian Orthodox Church,” Nebenzia said, reports RIA-Novosti.
“We believe this situation deserves the close attention of the Security Council members,” Russia’s representative said, warning of serious consequences for regional peace and security.
Nebenzia also said the Security Council plans to talk about how the civilians of Donbass have survived under shelling since 2014, and what their hopes and goals are.
However, the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, which separated itself from the Moscow Patriarchate in May, is displeased with such a call coming from Russia.
The UOC’s Department for External Church Relations stated yesterday:
It became known from the media that the permanent representative of the Russian Federation to the UN V. A. Nebenzia called for a separate meeting of the UN Security Council for January 17, 2023 on the situation around the Ukrainian Orthodox Church.
In this regard, we inform you that the Ukrainian Orthodox Church has not yet applied to any state with a request for assistance in protecting its rights, and even more so to a state that has committed a treacherous armed attack on our country. Also, we did not authorize anyone from the ROC-MP to speak on our behalf at the UN. We are concerned that the issue of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church is raised by structures that have nothing to do with us. We call on the Russian authorities not to speak on behalf of our Church on international platforms and not to use the religious factor for their own political purposes.
At the same time, we ask our Ukrainian authorities to pursue a balanced religious policy within the country, to ensure equal rights for all religious organizations, so as not to give the aggressor state a reason to use the religious policy of our state in their own interests.
Synodal institutions of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, within their competence and available capabilities, systematically carry out activities aimed at protecting the rights and freedoms of believers and religious organizations of the UOC, both at the national and international levels.