UKRAINE AND U.S.A. CONDEMN DAMAGE AND LOOTING OF P.Ts.U. CATHEDRAL IN CRIMEA
RISU, 26 July 2019
Ukraine and the United States are condemning the actions of the occupation authority of Crimea, which was annexed by Russia, where in Simferopol the building of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine (PTsU) cathedral of the Holy Equal-to-Apostles Prince Vladimir and Princess Olga was seized, and then under the guise of repairs, the church property was damaged and plundered, TSN reports.
"On 24 July 2019, ecclesiastical items were stolen from the Orthodox Church of Ukraine's cathedral church of the Holy Equal-to-Apostles Prince Vladimir and Princess Olga in the city of Simferopol. A month earlier, namely on 28 June 2019, the court system of the occupation authority of the Russian Federation required the Crimean diocese of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church to transfer the premises where both the diocese and the cathedral church are located to the so-called 'Ministry of Property and Land Relations of Crimea.' Without the knowledge of the Crimean diocese, construction workers dismantled the roof, which led to flooding of the church premises and damage to the property. A fence was put up around the building and the windows and doors were removed. All of this so-called repair work was conducted on the orders of the occupation authorities, specifically the so-called 'Ministry of Property and Land Relations of the Republic of Crimea.' Now the cathedral church is in a horrible, semi-destroyed state," stated the Ukrainian Ministry on Issues of Temporarily Occupied Territories and Internally Displaced Persons.
The ministry also added that "such a development of events with respect to the religious community of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (PTsU) was absolutely predictable, inasmuch as systematic pressure and persecution have continued since the early days of the occupation of the Crimean peninsula by the Russian Federation. Before 2014, the Crimean diocese of the UPTsKP had 46 parishes, 3 Orthodox brotherhood, one mission, and one male monastery. In the five years of existence under occupation, the church has been left with 9 parishes and 4 priests. The Ukrainian church on the Crimean peninsula was and remains under constant control and pressure. After all, since the first days of the occupation, the church has issued harsh statements with respect to Russian aggression, and also it is the only religious organization that refused to undergo reregistration, which was demanded by the legislation of the aggressor country. One can say without exaggeration that the PTsU in Crimea is, as of today, one of the symbols of non-violent resistance to the illegal attempt by the Russian Federation to annex the peninsula.
The ministry condemned these illegal actions by the Russian Federation on the territory of the temporarily occupied Crimea connected with the illegal seizure of property from a religious community and the denial to believers and priests of the PTsU the possibility to conduct worship services and religious rituals.
"Such actions of the Russian Federation are a direct violation of the norms of international humanitarian law and of international law in the sphere of human rights. All responsibility for what has been done lies, in accordance with international law, upon the Russian Federation," the Ministry for Issues of Temporarily Occupied Territory emphasized.
The embassy of the United States of America in Ukraine noted that "we are concerned by reports about the looting of the cathedral church of the Holy Equal-to-Apostles Vladimir and Olga of the PTsU in Simferopol. Residents of Crimea deserve to have the possibility to conduct worship services as they desire, freely and without intimidation. We call upon Russia to cease the occupation of Crimea. Crimea is Ukraine."
The head of the PTsU, Metropolitan Epifany, stated that "the Russian occupation authority in Crimea is continuing its attack upon the freedom of religious confession. During the past five years, representatives of Russia, by means of pressure, intimidation, and illegal decisions of the authorities, have systematically destroyed Ukrainian Orthodox communities in the occupied autonomous republic of Crimea. The occupation authority has fought with special treachery against the center of the Crimean diocese of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine, the cathedral church of Saints Vladimir and Olga in the city of Simferopol."
He added, citing Archbishop of Simferopol and Crimea Kliment, that "property that was in the sealed premises of the cathedral was discovered by Archbishop Kliment to be damaged or missing. Some items were thrown into the landfill near the church building and others are simply missing.
"I express my profound indignation at this routine incident of violence by the Russian occupying authority against our religious community in Crimea. I remind those who are immediately involved in violent acts against the church building: you are committing not only a crime by human law but also vandalism against the house of the Lord and blasphemy, which are grievous sins before God. It is especially cynical to commit such crimes before the parish feast day of the cathedral church and the day of the baptism of Kiev Rus-Ukraine, whose events are, as is known, historically linked with the land of Crimea," Metropolitan Epifany declared.
He urged the Ukrainian and international public to demand of Russia that it cease violation of the rights of the Ukrainian Orthodox community of Crimea and to bring the guilty to accountability, including an increase in the international sanctions against specific individuals and Russia as a state, which is violating one of the fundamental human rights. (tr. by PDS, posted 26 July 2019)
PROPERTY OF P.Ts.U. CATHEDRAL IN SIMFEROPOL LOOTED AND BROKEN UP, ARCHBISHOP REPORTS
Credo.Press, 24 July 2019
The property of the cathedral church of the Holy Equal-to-Apostles Vladimir and Olga of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine in Simferopol was "looted and broken up" after the decision of a court regarding its transfer to the use of the Russian Ministry of Property of Crimea. This was reported on 24 July to the website Krym.Realii by the Archbishop of Crimean diocese of the PTsU, Kliment.
He said the Russian Ministry of Property and Land Relations of Crimea began "internal repair" of the premises of the cathedral, without the consent of the parish.
"The situation is very critical. Everything happened while I was not in Crimea. According to the decision of a court, in 2017, 110 square meters of space on the first floor was seized. It was sealed and was locked up. But at the same time it was inventoried and the church property was preserved: chairs, icons, furniture, carpets, vessels, tables, and tableware. Now all of this has been looted and broken up. I saw some things outside in a dump. Where the other things were divided, I do not know," the clergyman reported.
Archbishop Kliment connects the "looting of the cathedral" with his trip to the U.S.A. "It was when I was at a conference on religious liberty that they began the pogrom. This is how Russia shows the whole world what the world community and religious liberty mean to it," the hierarch thinks.
At the Russian Ministry of Property and Land Relations of Crimea, journalists' phone calls were not answered. (tr. by PDS, posted 27 July 2019)
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