State Service trusted ROC rather than UOC documents to determine UOC status—legal department

Kiev, February 2, 2023

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The State Service of Ukraine for Ethnic Policy and Freedom of Conscience announced the results of its examination of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church’s status yesterday, declaring that it’s still part of the Moscow Patriarchate—a clear step towards outright banning the Church throughout the country.

However, the UOC continues to defend itself. In comments for the UOC’s Information-Education Department, Archpriest Alexander Bakhov, the head of the Church’s Legal Department, characterized the examination as “illegal, conducted in violation of the law, and going beyond the bounds of its object of study.”

According to Fr. Alexander, the conclusion of the examination would shock any lawyer, because it was written by people who had no clear grounds for participating in such work.

In early January, the UOC submitted an appeal for clearly biased members to be excluded from the “expert group” and for international religious scholars to be brought in, but their appeal was ignored.

As Fr. Alexander notes, several members of the “expert group” are well-known to have made not only biased, but openly hostile statements against the UOC, while at the same time they were expected to ensure an objective an unbiased study.

Meanwhile, Viktor Yelensky, the head of the State Service for Ethnic Policy and Freedom of Conscience, declares that Ukraine is a paragon of religious freedom.

Further, the “expert group” was tasked with the studying the statutes of the UOC, but instead they drew their conclusion from the statutes of the Russian Church, which still include a special section dedicated to the UOC, dating to before the UOC Council in May where it separated itself from the ROC.

As the analysis of the Union of Orthodox Journalists points out, defining the status of the UOC based on documents of the ROC is like defining the borders of Ukraine based on Russian-produced maps.

“So this examination absolutely doesn’t correspond to the subject of the study,” Fr. Alexander emphasized.

What is happening is nothing less than the gross violation of the freedom of religion of the 12,000 religious registered parishes representing millions of citizens of Ukraine, the UOC legal head said.

“If a decision is made based on this conclusion, we will defend ourselves by all legal means, both at the national and international levels,” he assured.

His Eminence Archbishop Sylvester of Belogorod, rector of the Kiev Theological Academy and Seminary, also spoke on related matters in an interview with

While the Ukrainian state’s “expert group” concluded that the UOC is part of the ROC because it hasn’t declared its own autocephaly, Abp. Sylvester explains that this simply isn’t how things work in the Church—that autocephaly can’t simply be declared, but must be recognized by the other Local Churches.

“Thus, the difficulties that a unilateral declaration of autocephaly would create are obvious, but the benefits are questionable,” His Eminence says.

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m. Cornelia2/4/2023 7:24 pm
Alex: Brilliant.
Alex2/4/2023 1:48 am
The Russian Orthodox Church should troll them by declaring that the State Service of Ukraine for Ethnic Policy and Freedom of Conscience is henceforth officially subordinate to the Moscow Patriarchate; so that, by their own logic, they would have to ban themselves (because apparently the status of organizations in Ukraine is determined by Russian religious institutions, not by Ukrainian law).
Bob2/3/2023 12:48 am
The persecutors of the UOC are irreligious monsters to begin with. They are like the old Communists whose goal was to create an atheist state. Zelensky is immoral and wants nothing to do with religion. It is so obvious the Ukrainian government is using Pat Bart and the OCU to eliminate Christianity but the hubris of the fake OCU hierarchy feeds on this flattery. They think they are important and respected while all the time they are used as pawns to a dark end. So sad because it seemed Russia was recovering from atheism, but even there, the historical submission of church to state continues.
Alex2/3/2023 12:23 am
Even Inspector Clouseau can 'fact check' better than the Ukrainian government. Well, the joke will be on them when the boomerang comes around! (May God have mercy on them!)
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