30 June 2016, 10:07
Moscow would like Venice Commission to react to Rada appeal on Ukrainian Orthodox Church's autocephaly
Moscow, June 30, Interfax - The appeal of Ukraine's Verkhovnaya Rada to the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople on granting autocephaly to the Ukrainian Orthodox Church is a breach of Ukrainian law and the Venice Commission should state its opinion of the issue, Russian Foreign Ministry commissioner for human rights Konstantin Dolgov said.
"What has Verkhovnaya Rada to do with inter-church relations in Ukraine that are heated even without it? Of course, this is a very serious thing and it is hurtful and deplorable that international institutions and organizations still pay no attention to it," Dolgov said at session of a working group with the State Duma speaker for monitoring Ukrainian law.
"It seems to me that the Venice Commission among others could pay attention to that, because it is a breach of national legislation, very definitely," the ministry official said.
He also said he felt that Verkhovnaya Rada intensified work on bills to create legislative groundwork for hostile takeovers of churches of the Moscow Patriarchate in Ukraine.
"Several bills are being promoted [at Verkhovnaya Rada] that are aimed at the actual formation of a regulatory foundation for the hostile takeover of churches of the Moscow Patriarchate. There are corresponding amendments to the law on the freedom of conscience, they are being revitalized again now," Dolgov said.
In addition, he said that there is one more bill at the Rada "a very dangerous one that would permit any group of individuals in Ukraine to declare itself a religious community, and make corresponding property claims for any temple, church or monastery."
"In the present conditions of such a split not only of society but attempts of a church schism that we see in Ukraine these are most dangerous things. And we are drawing the attention of our partners to the fact that in addition to political danger this is an absolutely definite violation of corresponding international commitments. There have been corresponding acknowledgements along the lines of the UN and the High Commissioner for Human Rights, including his latest report in Geneva," Dolgov said.
The Venice Commission is an advisory body of the Council of Europe, composed of independent experts in the field of constitutional law. It was created in 1990 after the fall of the Berlin wall. The Commission's official name is the European Commission for Democracy through Law, but due to its meeting place in Venice, Italy, where sessions take part four times a year, it is usually referred to as the Venice Commission.