President Zelensky announces sanctions against Russian-connected church


Eastern Europe


President Zelensky has announced sanctions against the Ukrainian Orthodox Church. This church is too much connected with Russia, he thinks. Photo AFP

The Ukrainian President Zelensky considers some sanctions and restrictions against the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (UOC). This church is connected with the Moscow Patriarchate and therefore suspected to be under Russian influence.

This was reported by SPZH on Friday morning, although it is not clear what restrictions the President has decided.

On Thursday evening, the President announced that he will table a bill with a possible ban on the activities of religious organisations that are connected to "centres of influence" in Russia. "We will ensure full independence for our state. In particular, spiritual independence. We will never allow anyone to build an empire inside the Ukrainian soul," Zelensky said.

He has instructed that the bill must comply with the norms of international law since Ukraine is obliged to do that because of its membership in the Council of Europe.


At the moment, a bill in the Parliament from the European Solidarity Party is trying to forbid the UOC. The UOC is an independent church related to the Russian Orthodox Church since they share the same Patriarch. However, the UOC does not share the Russian political ideology and openly condemns the Russian invasion.

The position of the UOC has been under debate since the beginning of the war. Earlier, the Speaker of the Parliament decided not to debate proposals since that would split the society during wartime.

Earlier this week, a high Ukrainian official said it would not be helpful to ban the UOC since most of its officials and members are not a threat to the state. Some months earlier, the central government denied that city councils were entitled to ban this church.

Since 2019, there has been a second church in Ukraine, known as the Orthodox Church of Ukraine (OCU), connected to the Patriarchate of Constantinople. Most of the World Orthodoxy has now recognised this church. Since 2019, however, the church issues have contributed to the polarisation between Russia and Ukraine.



Subscribe for an update, and receive a documentary and e-book for free.

Choose your subscriptions*

You may subscribe to multiple lists.