Ukraine accuses Russia of religious discrimination


Religiia v Ukraine, 23 August 2019


The charge d'affaires of Ukraine in the United Nations, Yury Vitrenko, during an Arria formula session on 22 August of the United Nations Security Council on protection of religious minorities in conditions of armed conflict, declared that the Russian occupying authority is crudely violating freedom of conscience and religious confession in temporarily occupied territories of Crimea and the Donbass, oppressing believers of all confessions and religions except for the Moscow patriarchate, Religiia v Ukraine reports with reference to Ukrinform.


"Russian aggression against my country and temporary occupation of part of Ukrainian territory are continuing, accompanied by systematic discrimination, persecutions, and tortures, which crudely violate the rights of Ukrainian citizens on religious grounds," Vitrenko declared, addressing the participants.


According to the diplomat, the occupying authority has unfolded a "broad campaign of oppressions against Ukrainians on the basis of their religious convictions."


Vitrenko cited the conclusions of the United Nations monitoring mission for human rights in Ukraine, which says in particular that "all religious confessions except the Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate seem to be subjected to pressure by armed groups, to persecution, to detention of clerics and parishioners, and also to seizure of church property."


"The Russian occupying authority in the Donbass even invented the so-called 'legalization,' Russian style, when all religious organizations except the Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate were required to undergo reregistration," he explained.


Vitrenko added that through such illegal demands, more than 1,000 religious groups, recognized by Ukrainian legislation, cannot continue their activity in the temporarily occupied Donbass.


"In Crimea, the report of the United Nations monitoring mission for human rights for 2017 notes that before the occupation of the peninsula in 2014, there existed 2,083 religious organizations on its territory; as of September 2017, only 722 had survived the campaign of oppression," he noted.


The Ukrainian diplomat noted that in recent years the situation has only become worse. Massive raids by the occupying authority against Muslim Crimean Tatars have led to dozens of arrests and detention of innocent people on falsified charges.


In addition, he added, the Orthodox Church of Ukraine (PTsU) has experienced continuous oppression. He said that in March of this year, the Russian occupying authority arrested Archbishop of Simforopol and Crimea Kliment, the leader of the Ukrainian Orthodox community of Crimea, on fabricated charges, and in April of this year the Russians initiated the expropriation of the last church of the PTsU in Crimea, and less than a month ago they desecrated its premises.


"We demand of the Russian Federation that it immediately cease all acts of religious discrimination of persons, groups of persons, or institutions in occupied territories and that it restore their rights, including the rights to property, and that it bring those guilty of violations to justice," the diplomat declared.


The session of the United Nations Security Council according to the Arria formula was conducted on the initiative of delegations of member states of the UN Security Council with the goal of presenting to members of the council the possibility of information on one or another question from a wide circle of participants who are ordinarily denied the opportunity to be heard in the course of formal sessions of the Security Council. Such sessions can be conducted in closed (with the participation of only members of the UNSC) and in open (for all UN member states) formats. They permit their participants to conduct direct dialogue with representatives of governments, international organizations, and nongovernmental actors on a wide circle of questions on the council's agenda. (tr. by PDS, posted 23 August 2019)

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