16 May 2022, 15:37
Russian experts record more than 70 attacks on churches of UOC by the Ukrainian side
Moscow, May 16, Interfax – About 30 churches of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (UOC) were forcibly transferred in 2022 to non-canonical Orthodox church of Ukraine (OCU) and in more than 20 localities of Ukraine authorities banned the activities of the UOC, Sergey Melnikov, head of the Russian Association for the Protection of Religious Freedom (RARS), said.
"The religious policy of Ukraine continues to discriminate the religious majority - Orthodox believers who consider themselves to be the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church. I would even say that various cases of discrimination of the UOC in 2022 are "explosive," he said at the Monday presentation of annual report of RARS on freedom of conscience.
According to Melnikov, mainly in Ukraine there are such plots as the seizure of churches by nationalist groups with the connivance of local authorities, the closure and transfer of churches of the UOC to the jurisdiction of the OCU. "We have registered about 30 similar cases here," the human rights activist said.
Another option is the adoption of a decision by local authorities to ban the UOC on their territory. "There are already more than 20 such stories - it all started with the Lvov Region, then it spread to other regions," Melnikov recalled, noting that such incidents already occur "almost every day."
Melnikov also mentioned such methods of pressure on the canonical Church of Ukraine as arson of its churches, vandals, threats, attacks on clergy and parishioners, searches, calls to the SBU (security service), blocking websites, as well as the bill on banning the UOC submitted to the Verkhovnaya Rada on March 22.
In addition, the authors of the report recorded more than 70 attacks on churches of the canonical UOC by the Ukrainian side. According to Melnikov, this mostly happened either on the territory of the Donetsk and Lugansk People's Republics or on the territories that were taken by Russian troops during a special military operation.
As "egregious facts", the human rights activist mentioned that Ukrainian forces held more than 450 people in the Nikolo-Vasilyevsky Monastery in the Donbass for a month, using them as human shields. A similar case, Melnikov recalled, occurred in Svyatogorsk, the DPR, when the militants of nationalist battalions seized the Svyatogorsk Lavra and placed artillery pieces on its territory. "There were also more than a hundred civilians there – priests, novices, refugees," he noted.