Violations of the rights of Christians in the Balkans as a consequence of nationalism in religious policy. Is there a way out of the situation?



Summary: In 2019, the rights of Christians belonging to the Serbian Orthodox Church continue to be violated in Montenegro and Macedonia. The Government of Montenegro has initiated a bill which is viewed by believers as a discriminatory attempt to deprive them of their historical cultural heritage; clerics of the SOC do not have their permits to reside in the country prolonged; the authorities do not allow Christians to worship. The situation in Macedonia has already become the subject of litigation at the ECHR in light of the violation of Christians’ rights; Archbishop Jovan Vraniskovski was subjected to more than 5 years of imprisonment due to his religious activity. These and many other facts testify to the similarity of tendencies in Montenegro and in Macedonia – the official authorities exclusively support those denominations which in the spirit of nationalism provide mutual political support to states. The rule of law and human rights are grossly violated. Is there a solution to these problems with the help of law and policy?



Rights of believers of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church. Problems in relations with the state. Is there any thaw?



Summary: During 2014-2018 there were recorded numerous violations of the UOC believers’ rights in Ukraine: seizures of temples, threats and persecutions of Christians, acts of discrimination by radicals and government officials. The number and intensity of rights violations has increased dramatically in 2019 – on the eve of the election campaign of the former President of Ukraine, which included popularization of the Tomos, issued by the Patriarch of Constantinople, but not recognized by other Orthodox Churches of the world. Only from October 2018 to April 2019, more than 62 temples of the UOC were illegally seized. Hierarchs of the UOC entered the scandalous fake base "Mirotvorets" (Peacemaker) as enemies of Ukraine, they are searched when crossing state borders; clerics and activists who defend the rights of the UOC are summoned to the SBU (Security Service of Ukraine) for questioning, criminal cases are fabricated against them on false grounds. The number of violations of the UOC believers’ rights was so dramatic that the Holy Synod of the UOC had to openly and publicly appeal to the international community for protection.






Video address of the Holy Synod of the UOC due to violations of the believers rights in Ukraine:


International response to official statements By NGO Public Advocacy


 As a result of numerous appeals of victims to the UNHRC, as well as to the UN Special Rapporteurs, on October 30, 2019, the UN Special Rapporteurs sent a Communication to the Ukrainian government demanding to supply answers to questions about violations of the UOC believers’ rights. On May 23, the Ukrainian government delivered (with a delay of more than 5 months!) a controversial reply, which causes many questions and misunderstanding.




Key written statements of NGO Public Advocacy during 41 session of UNHRC


On the victimization law on forcible renaming of 12 000 communities of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church


The statement contains a legal opinion on the incompatibility with the norms of international law of the so-called “law on renaming” (Law of Ukraine “On Freedom of Conscience and Religious Organizations”). This law obliges all UOC religious organizations (about 12,000 entities) to compulsorily register changes in their statutes and indicate in them that they are affiliated with a religious center registered in a state recognized in Ukraine as an aggressor. Consequently, the law illegally labels Ukrainian citizens, believers of the UOC as members of the organization being hostile to the state. The law actually victimizes people, aims to divide society, to create an atmosphere of religious animosity. Religious organizations of the UOC are forced by the authorities to give up historical names, thus violating the believers' right to freely practice their religious identity, which is part of the right to freedom of religion.


On violations of the rights of the believers of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church by the actions of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople and the responsibility of Patriarch Bartholomew for massive violations of Human Rights in Ukraine





The statement contains an exclusive legal analysis of the decisions of the Patriarchate of Constantinople on granting the Tomos to Ukraine. In particular, it is established that the Constantinople Patriarchate concealed full texts of the decisions of the CP’s Holy Synod. The statement verifies and describes the relationship between violations of the rights of Christians in Ukraine and the decisions of the Patriarchate of Constantinople, as well as holds the leadership of this denomination to account for the emergence of a new wave of seizure of temples, discrimination and religious hatred.



Impunity for human rights violations and abuses committed against human rights activists who defend Ukrainian Orthodox Church




The statement describes the facts of violating the rights of human right activists defending the UOC believers. It provides an insight into the facts of their being charged with criminal offences, searched, including in connection with their efforts to protect the rights of believers.



Voice from inside and outside of the Syrian civil society: Priority measures to ensure security and restoration in the Syrian Arab Republic



At the request of Eastern Orthodox Churches and civil society in the SAR – refugees and migrants who want to rebuild an affected region – the NGO draws the attention of the UNHCR and the international community to the voice of Christian Eastern leaders and indigenous people seeking to convey to the international diplomatic audience their pain, hopes and suggestions for the future of the Middle East region.



On the seizure and re-arrest of the church building located in the village of Ptichya, Dubno District, Rovno Region, Ukraine



The statement describes a high-profile case of arresting and blocking worship services in the temple of the UOC religious community of Ptichya village, Rovno Region, Ukraine. The case is resonant, as the church was arrested by the decision of the authorities in criminal proceedings, despite the fact that the UOC community has ownership of the temple, repeatedly confirmed by the courts of Ukraine. The temple was eventually taken over by armed representatives of radical organizations.



On violations of the rights of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church



The statement describes some evidence of hate speech towards believers of the UOC in the documents of public authorities, high-profile cases of beating believers by the units of the Ministry of Internal Affairs in Katerinovka village, Ternopol Region; the cases of raider seizure of temples in the villages of Ptichya of Rovno Region and Kolomyya of Ivano-Frankovsk Region; facts of violations of the believers’ rights during the All-Ukrainian Cross Procession. The text of this statement is regularly re-published in the UN system in order to draw the attention of the international community to these outstanding issues.