Kiev, January 17, Interfax - The bill passed by the Verkhovnaya Rada introducing a procedure by which parishes can join the new Ukrainian church makes it easier to seize places of worship, and supporters of autocephaly have already started doing this across the country, the Ukrainian Orthodox Church said.
"They need this law to seize our churches. You can't just come with a crowbar to someone else's barn, but now the law allows you to do so. They aren't creating something of their own, but are trying to steal what's ours," Ukrainian Orthodox Church spokesperson Vasily Anisimov told Interfax on Thursday.
The religious entity set up in December with Constantinople's involvement and called the Orthodox Church of Ukraine "in fact doesn't yet exist in nature. It's fake. It doesn't have any parishes of its own or government registration," he said.
However, "the supporters of autocephaly don't have plans to create anything of their own at all, so they have chosen the path of takeover, and the authorities are helping them in that," Anisimov said.
"Hence, the legislation passed by the Verkhovnaya Rada today is in fact absolute lawlessness," he said.
"If you pass legislation affecting an industry, you should talk to industrialists, and if it's legislation on the agricultural sector, talk to farmers. And here legislation on a church is passed, and moreover, this legislation is aimed against this church, it is protesting, and Jews are protesting, too, because this legislation may affect them as well - but nobody is listening, and they change the law for the sake of an absolutely absurd and unconstitutional gimmick. But, of course, it's the people who will ultimately suffer," Anisimov said.