SUBMITTED BY PUBLIC ORGANIZATION PUBLIC ADVOCACY -
non-governmental organizations in special UN ECOSOC consultative status
(supported by: VSI Zmogaus teisiu apsauga, Kyiv Theological Academy and Seminary, dioceses, religious communities of Ukrainian Orthodox Church)
Plenary Session IV: Fundamental freedoms II Friday, 06 October 2023
Dear participants in the meeting,
I urge all those present to influence Ukrainian authorities to change their policy towards the Ukrainian Orthodox Church. For the first time in many years, Ukrainian government bodies have taken legal action to expropriate churches of religious organizations, to demolish monasteries, instead of applying restitution – returning property to its rightful owners, i.e. the religious organizations of the UOC.
I would like to remind you that Ukraine has undertaken commitments to return the historical property to the Orthodox Church. Instead, the whole world is witnessing the process of evicting the Holy Assumption Monastery from churches and premises of the Kyiv Pechersk Lavra, which the state, for some reason, continues to consider as state property, although this property should have long been transferred to the Ukrainian Orthodox Church in restitution.
Separately, I want to refer to the criminal cases that have been opened against UOC metropolitans. There is now a verdict in the case of Metropolitan Ionafan (Jonathan) of Tulchyn and Bratslav, who was sentenced to 5 years of imprisonment. Currently, the cases of Metropolitan Feodosiy of Cherkasy and Kaniv and the abbot of the Kyiv Pechersk Lavra, Metropolitan Pavel, are being heard. These bishops are tried allegedly for their hostile rhetoric towards clerics of other denominations. However, there isn't a single criminal case against representatives of other denominations, who have been raiding UOC churches for 8 years using open violence. Hundreds of complaints from UOC believers to the law enforcement system in Ukraine have not led to the punishment of the perpetrators, even if crimes were committed publicly. There are clear double standards of justice and legal nonsense about criminal prosecution in Ukraine.
Lastly, the Ukrainian parliament does not stop trying to ban the Ukrainian Orthodox Church via legislation. How is it possible to outlaw the Church that enjoys legal status and consists of more than 12,000 perfectly legitimate religious organizations with no legal claims against them, except that, according to Ukrainian officials, they are somehow associated with the Russian Orthodox Church?
Yesterday, Ukrainian parliamentarians said they had enough votes to pass that law.
I call on the OSCE participating states to ensure the protection of the rights to freedom of religion in Ukraine and to safeguard the believers of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church from persecution.
Thank you for your attention,
Public Organization “Public Advocacy”
06 October 2023