UKRAINIAN SECURITY SERVICE SUSPECTS UPTs PRIEST OF ROVNO DIOCESE OF INCITING CONFLICT
Interfax-Religiia, 16 March 2019
The head of the Department for Affairs of Regulating Inter-confessional Conflicts of the Rovno diocese of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (UPTs), Archpriest Viktor Zemliany, was given notification at an interrogation in the S.B.U. [Security Service of Ukraine] about suspicion on the basis of articles 161 and 300 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine.
These articles provide for criminal liability for deliberate actions aimed at inflaming national, racial, or religious strife and hatred, for demeaning national honor and dignity, and for offending the feelings of citizens because of their religious convictions and for importing, producing, or distributing works promoting a cult of violence and cruelty, the UPTs Department of Information and Enlightenment reports.
Before the start of the interrogation, the priest recorded a video appeal in which he emphasized that his active position of defending the rights and liberties of believers of the Rovno region displeases officials of the local administration and other representatives of authority.
After two and a half hours of interrogation, Father Viktor left the S.B.U. department and was met by his flock with flowers and words of support. A vicar of the Rovno diocese and other representatives of the clergy also arrived to support the priest.
In the legal department of the UPTs, the summons of the priest to an interrogation on such grounds was evaluated as criminal prosecution based on religious identity. "Once again we are convinced that the S.B.U. is looking for religious conflict in a place where it does not exist and it does not notice the obvious incidents of inflaming religious strife with respect to believers and religious parishes of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church," the head of the legal department of the UPTs, Archpriest Alexander Bakhov, said, whose words were quoted in the appeal. (tr. by PDS, posted 18 March 2019)
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