UN again sounds alarm on violence against Ukrainian Orthodox people and churches

Kiev, March 27, 2024


The latest report from the UN’s Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) on the human rights situation in Ukraine is again raising awareness about the persecution of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church.

The UN has continually sounded the alarm about the persecution of the UOC. His Eminence Metropolitan Theodosy of Cherkasy, one of the hierarchs being specifically targeted by the Ukrainian state, has addressed the Human Rights Council on the matter several times.

The UN’s latest report covers the period from December 1, 2023, to February 29, 2024.

The executive summary of the report states: “OHCHR continued to document cases in which groups of people physically attacked property and parishioners of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (UOC), historically aligned with the Moscow patriarchate.”

Section VII, on freedom of religion and belief, is completely dedicated to the persecution of Ukrainian Orthodox Christians.

It states:

Clergymen and parishioners of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (UOC) continued to experience intimidation during the reporting period. OHCHR recorded six cases across five regions where groups of people forcefully broke into UOC churches, justifying their actions with decisions from local authorities to register new religious communities of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine (OCU) at the same address as existing UOC communities.

The report also details specific cases:

On 28 December 2023, a group of persons attacked the Kazan temple in Ladyzhyn, Vinnytsia region, with at least two individuals involved in this attack claiming to be active servicemen of Ukrainian armed forces. Police officers present at the site did not intervene. Subsequently, on 9 January 2024, a group of about 30 individuals wearing camouflage uniforms without insignia used two heavy construction vehicles to break the gates and fence of the temple and forced their way into the UOC church. They beat the clergyman and two male parishioners, all of whom suffered minor injuries. At least nine individuals were physically attacked during the two incidents. Only two victims submitted complaints to police, one of which was later withdrawn. Most victims said they did not submit complaints because they feared retaliation, such as threats from their neighbours or dismissal from their jobs.

OHCHR previously reported a similar case in Cherkasy city, Cherkasy region, on 20 November 2023. 54 In that case, multiple victims and witnesses interviewed by OHCHR identified one of the attackers as a member of the Ukrainian armed forces. Ukrainian authorities have since opened criminal cases into the Cherkasy and the Ladyzhyn cases.

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