Kiev, March 29, Interfax - An administrative court in Kiev has opened proceedings in a lawsuit filed by the Kiev Metropolitanate of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (UOC) against the Culture Ministry which has demanded that the church's name state its affiliation with the Moscow Patriarchate.
The plaintiff asks the court to rule that the ministry acted unlawfully by publishing, on its website and in the government gazette, a list of religious organizations required to change their bylaws' section regarding the name change, the court's press service said on Friday.
"The case will be considered in accordance with the rules for a simplified legal process, i.e. without notifying the parties to the case," the press service said.
On Dec 20, 2018, the Ukrainian Verkhovnaya Rada passed legislation obliging the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate to indicate its affiliation with the Russian Orthodox Church in its name.
"A religious organization that is a structural part of a religious organization with its center in the state that has committed military aggression against Ukraine and temporarily occupied its territory must indicate affiliation with this religious organization outside the country in its name," the bill reads.
On Dec 22, President Pyotr Poroshenko signed into law this bill.
The Culture Ministry conducted a religious expert analysis and published a list of religious organizations, including the UOC, which are required to change their name and bylaws accordingly. The organizations had three months to make such changes or face possible closure by a court order, the ministry said.
Meanwhile, the UOC claims that it did not fall under the law compelling religious organizations headquartered in an aggressor-country to state such affiliation. The UOC's position is that its administrative center was not in Moscow but in Kiev and that its links with Moscow were merely spiritual.