Kiev, February 20, 2023
The state persecution of the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church continues at a rapid pace, with a number of hierarchs especially being targeted.
On December 28, President Zelensky signed a decree depriving 13 hierarchs of their Ukrainian citizenship. His Eminence Metropolitan Melety of Chernivtsi and Bukovina, head of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church’s Department for External Church Relations, is currently fighting the alarming decision in court.
And according to the Ukrainian outlet lb.ua, another five bishops were deprived of citizenship in early January. It was the same outlet that initially reported about the 13 hierarchs.
Among the five hierarchs is His Grace Bishop Gideon of Makarov, abbot of the Tithes Monastery in Kiev, who was actually already deprived of his passport and citizenship in 2019 under President Poroshenko after speaking to the U.S. Congress about the state persecution of the Church. However, a court ordered the State Migration Service to return his citizenship in early 2020, and he was able to return home that March.
The same Migration Service is now depriving bishops of their citizenship again.
According to the report, His Eminence Metropolitan Platon of Theodosia, one of the Crimean hierarchs who was received into the Russian Orthodox Church after the Ukrainian Church separated from the Moscow Patriarchate in May, has also been banned from entering Ukraine.
And according to the official site of the Ukrainian State Security Service (SBU), a case has been opened against another hierarch of the Ukrainian Church.
According to the SBU, it has “indisputable evidence” that His Eminence Metropolitan Theodosy of Cherkasy is guilty of “inciting inter-confessional enmity.” Under his leadership, the Cherkasy Diocesan website has posted materials from patriarchia.ru and pravmir.ru that “imposed ideas of racism and popularized the Kremlin regime,” the SBU writes.
Met. Theodosy spoke about the matter on Sunday, noting a 10-hour search was carried out at the diocese and at his apartment in Kiev on Friday. “It was unclear what they were looking for, but they found nothing,” His Eminence said, though the SBU nevertheless formally informed him of criminal suspicion.
He explained that the basis of the charges against him is that he regularly speaks publicly, as both a hierarch of the UOC and a professor of the Kiev Theological Academy, about the Church’s ecclesiology, explaining the difference between the canonical Church and the schismatic organizations in Ukraine.