Ukrainian Church protests state discrimination

Kiev, October 24, 2023

Despite being a founding member of the All-Ukrainian Council of Churches and Religious Organizations (AUCCRO), the representatives of the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church were not permitted to participate in the group’s recent meeting with the Prime Minister of Ukraine.

In its statement against the state discrimination, the UOC’s Department of External Church Relations notes that this is the first time in AUCCRO history that a member church has been prohibited from participating in a meeting.

The incident occurred the same day that Parliamentarian deputies voted to ban the UOC in the first reading of the relevant bill (there still has to be a second vote before the bill passes into law).

The DECR’s statement reads:

On October 19, 2023, a meeting of the All-Ukrainian Council of Churches and Religious Organizations (AUCCRO) with the Prime Minister of Ukraine, Denis Shmyhal, took place. At the same time, authorized representatives from the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (UOC) were not allowed to participate in this meeting.

Despite the fact that the nominated participants from the UOC were submitted by the AUCCRO in advance, the Ukrainian government refused their participation in the meeting with the Prime Minister of Ukraine as part of the AUCCRO, without providing any reasons.

The UOC, being officially registered and lawfully operating in Ukraine, is also one of the co-founders and active members of the AUCCRO. This is the first case in the history of Ukraine where a legitimate member of the AUCCRO has been denied participation in a meeting with the head of the government as part of the AUCCRO. According to Article 5 of the law of Ukraine “On Freedom of Conscience and Religious Organizations,” all religions, beliefs, and religious organizations are equal before the law. Establishing any privileges or limitations for one religion, belief, or religious organization over others is not permitted. The AUCCRO operates on the principles of equality and equal rights, showing respect for the internal regulations and traditions of all officially recognized religious organizations in Ukraine.

In this regard, it should be noted that the actions of the Ukrainian government are discriminatory towards the largest religious association in Ukraine and violate the legal prohibition on establishing any privileges or limitations among religious associations. We consider the obstacles imposed on the representatives of the UOC by the government as unacceptable and indicative of a discriminatory policy against the Ukrainian Orthodox Church.

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