New Ukrainian church claims mistreatment by Russian occupiers


Credo.Press, 2 April 2019


On 2 April, during a speech at a meeting with representatives of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), a spokesman for the Orthodox Church of Ukraine (PTsU), Archbishop Evstraty, spoke about the systematic persecution of clergy and believers of the PTsU in Crimea and territories of the Donbass not controlled by Ukraine.


"At this session, I want to call your special attention to the systematic persecution of clergy and believers of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine, which is occurring in occupied territories of Ukraine—in Crimea and separate regions of the Donbass—on the part of those who now control them," the website Krym.Realii quotes the archbishop.


The hierarch said that in Crimea, Russian authorities want to take away from believers the only Ukrainian Orthodox church in Simferopol, the church of Saints Vladimir and Olga, and to liquidate the church in Evpatoria as "illegal."


Archbishop Evstraty noted: "Archbishop Kliment--the leader of the Ukrainian Orthodox community of Crimea—is being subjected to continuous pressure. On 3 March 2019 in Simferopol the police detained him over the course of nine hours on absurd charges: supposedly he stole religious items from his own church building and cursed in a public place. Archbishop Kliment heads the rights advocacy mission of our church, and we consider the persecution of him on the part of Russian authorities as pressure on the leader of the Ukrainian community of Crimea and a rights advocate."


He said that in the occupied regions of the Donbass, a requirement was announced for all religious communities to undergo "registration." "This requirement is illegal, since it was declared by the so-called 'republics,' and nobody has recognized them as criminal organizations. However the lack of 'registration' threatens all religious communities, with the exception of the Moscow patriarchate, with a ban on their activity and the confiscation of all property," the archbishop emphasized.


The representative of the PTsU called on the OSCE to conduct constant monitoring of the violations of religious liberty in Crimea and in territories of the Donbass not controlled by Ukraine.


"Only international attention and the requirement that Russia observe human rights are able to prevent a worsening of the situation on these territories," the representative of the PTsU noted.


On 13 February, the Russian Ministry of Property of Crimea explained the requirement that the Crimean diocese of the PTsU vacate the building of the cathedral church in Simferopol upon the expiration of the contract with the diocese of the UPTsKP, which had transferred into the newly created Orthodox Church of Ukraine.


Earlier, Archbishop Kliment of the Crimean diocese of the PTsU reported that the authorities of Crimea are demanding "to liberate the premises" of the cathedral church of Saints Equal-to-the-Apostles Vladimir and Olga in Simferopol. Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, on 20 February at a session of the General Assembly of the United Nations in New York, described how Russian authorities in Crimea demanded that parishioners of the Crimean diocese of the PTsU abandon the building of the cathedral church in Simferopol. (tr. by PDS, posted 2 April 2019)

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