Draft measures against Russian Orthodox Church submitted to Ukrainian Parliament


Eastern Europe


A Ukraine's Security Service (SBU) serviceman checks a bag of a visitor to Kyiv Pechersk Lavra monastery, belonging to the UOC in Kyiv. Photo AFP, Sergei Chuzavkov

A draft with measures that target the Moscow-oriented Ukrainian Orthodox Church has been submitted to the Ukrainian Parliament on Tuesday.

The document aims to make it easier for parishes of the UOC to transfer from the Moscow Patriarchate to, for example, the Constantinople Patriarchate. Currently, two-thirds of the total number of members have to vote in favour of a transfer. In addition, the decision must be confirmed by signatures of participants present at the vote, Interfax reports. If the new bill is adopted, two-thirds of the participants at the ballot are seen as a sufficient majority for the transfer. Signatures are not needed anymore at all.

In addition, the proposal specifies that the Ukrainian state recognises the right of religious organisations to fall under the responsibility of centres abroad. At the same time, it makes an exception for Russia. This proposed provision seems to be connected to the request of Ukrainian President Zelensky for a proposal that would ban activities of religious “organisations affiliated with centres of influence in the Russian Federation”, Interfax writes.

Also, the bill aims to ban the direct transfer from state property to religious organisations with ties to Russia. Some people suspect this clause should make it easier to break lease contracts for state properties currently in use by the Ukrainian Orthodox Church.


Recently, the Security Service of Ukraine searched the facilities of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church in the Poltava region, RBC reports. They broke into the Mgarsky Spaso-Preobrazhensky Monastery of the Poltava and the Mirgorod Eparchy of the UOC and also into the Diocesan Administration of the Kremenchuk and Lubensky Eparchy of the UOC. The actions are said to be part of a larger plan to counter activities of the Russian special services in Ukraine.


The Russian Association for the Defence of Religious Freedom (RARS) calls for an international assessment of the Ukrainian measures against the Ukrainian Orthodox Church. They fear that the actions violate the norms of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, among other agreements. That is reported by the Russian news agency Tass. The RARS wants international human rights organisations to give “an unbiased assessment” of the decisions of the Ukrainian government.

The RARS refers to the searches of the UOC properties by the Ukrainian Security Service and says that several clergy people are detained and tortured by the Ukrainian authorities.



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