Ukrainian mayors ban Russian church because they feel threatened


Eastern Europe


The Ukrainian Orthodox Church (UOC) is on the side of the patriots. But still, the church is seen as pro-Russian and should therefore be forbidden, according to many Ukrainian city councils. Photo news.church.ua

Several cities in Ukraine have forbidden the activities of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (UOC) for the time of the war. This church is connected with the Patriarchate of Moscow.

These announcements come after the decision by the Parliament's speaker that he will not table the proposals for banning this church nationwide. Local restrictions, therefore, are the only way to hinder the Russian church.

The Brovary City Council in the Kyiv region decided to forbid gatherings, marches and other events, as was announced by the mayor Igor Sapozhko. This was reported by RBC-Ukraine.

Apart from this, 30 street names that are associated with Russia, were renamed.

Sapozhko. Photo Facebook

The Konotop City Council of Konotop in the Sumy region (in the northeast of Ukraine) took the same decision. According to the mayor, Artem Semenikhin is the church from the Moscow Patriarchate a "threat to Ukraine's national security". According to [RBC-Ukraine], the aim is to stop Russian propaganda in the city, RBC-Ukraine.

According to a response by the Moscow Patriarchate, mayor Semenikhin has been hindering the activities of this church for several years already. In April 2020, he would have ordered to turn off electricity and water and to terminate renting agreements.

Semenikhin. Photo Facebook

Changing from Patriarchate

In other places, believers are forced to move from the Moscow-oriented UOC to the OCU (Orthodox Church of Ukraine), reports the Union of Orthodox Journalists. In other places, people vote to swift from Patriarchate. The OCU resides under the Patriarchate of Constantinople.

The OCU is the church community that received autonomy from the international Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople in 2019. This decision, however, was never recognised by the Moscow Patriarchate.

The Moscow-oriented OUC is still the largest church in Ukraine. But since the Russian invasion in February, it has to do with delegitimisation from the Ukrainian side.

The church issue is one of the sensitive elements in the conflict between Russia and Ukraine. In the Orthodox view, church and state are not separated but work together. That implies that church government always has to do with politics.

Ending religious war

The Ukrainian Orthodox Church (OUC) came with an official reaction. The church speaks about illegal and even criminal decisions. They will weaken the nation's unity and could end in a "religious war". According to the OUC, there are already "two dozen such cases".

The Ukrainian Orthodox Church (UOC) openly supports the Armed Forces of Ukraine and buries the fallen soldiers. Photo news.church.ua

Unlike the Russian Orthodox Church, the UOC has condemned that war from the beginning. The Metropolitan has defended the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine and spoke about a conflict between Cain and Abel. Also, in this declaration, the UOC speaks about "invasion", "war", and "Russian aggression". Therefore the UOC "fully supports the Armed Forces of Ukraine". As far as the official position of the UOC is concerned, there is no doubt that this church stands behind the government in Kyiv.

The OUC's legal department issued a statement saying that local restrictions of the church are illegal. No law gives local governments the right to interfere in religious organisations, says the statement, even under martial law.



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