Ukrainian officials dispute who decides disposition of church property


Interfax-Religiia, 28 January 2019

Because of the receipt by the national police of Vinnytsia oblast of dozens of complaints from citizens about the violation of their rights to freedom of religious confession, bodies of local administration have been warned about their lack of authority to resolve matters regarding the organization of the activity of religious communities.


As the Department of Communication of the police of Vinnytsia oblast reported on Monday morning, citing existing legislation, the authority of village, town, and city councils is defined in chapter 11 of the constitution and part 2 of the law on local administration, and they do not have anything to do with the resolution of matters regarding the organization of the activity of religious communities.


"The interference of a territorial community in the activity of religious organizations will be a violation of articles 11, 35, 37, and 140 of the Ukrainian constitution, as a consequence of which individual officials may be held to account," the police communication says.


Also, the amendments adopted on 17 January established that decisions concerning the change of jurisdiction are made by no fewer than two-thirds of the number of members of a religious community (and not of a territorial community), which are necessary for recognizing its general meeting as authoritative.


"Therefore all decisions that are made at a meeting of a territorial community relative to religion are illegal and may not be executed," the Vinnytsia police emphasize.


Now the police are conducting a verification of all such citizens' complaints. (tr. by PDS, posted 29 January 2019)



RIA Novosti, 29 January 2019


Believers of the Vinnytsia diocese of the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church appealed to the police and were able to get protection of their rights from radicals from the "new church," a priest of the Kherson diocese of the UPTs, Archpriest Gennady Shkil, declared.


Last week the police of Vinnytsia oblast received dozens of complaints about violation of rights to freedom of religious confession. Law enforcement personnel urged local authorities not to interfere in the activity of the church and reminded them about responsibility for such interference.


"Believers made such a rebuff to the radicals that I think that they have lost, for a long time, the desire to organize any events near the new cathedral church. Vinnytsia police have stopped the illegal actions of local authorities specifically because of the appeals of parishes and rectors," Shkil wrote in his page on Facebook.


Shkil also urged parishioners to defend their church buildings by all available legal methods, in particular citing the articles of the Ukrainian constitution.


"If any chairman of a village council or district administration wants to conduct a meeting of a territorial community on the question of 'transfer' into the Holy Church of Ukraine, poke these articles under his nose. And if this does not stop him, be sure to take him to court under these articles. So when a court issues a guilty verdict against two or three such disturbers of social peace, then others will think about whether it is worth doing this," he concluded. . . .


Recently, reports that violent seizures of churches of the canonical UPTs have begun have arrived from various parts of the country. Thus, the head of the synod's Information and Enlightenment Center of the UPTs, Archbishop Kliment, reported that priests of the "new church" arrived at a church in Chernigov oblast of Ukraine accompanied by members of the Ukrainian nationalistic organization S-14 and there was no reaction on the part of the police. (tr. by PDS, posted 29 January 2019)

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