Majority of Ukrainians support sanctions against ‘Russian’ church


Eastern Europe


Ukraine's Security Service (SBU) servicemen check documents of visitors to Kyiv Pechersk Lavra monastery in Kyiv. Photo AFP, Sergei Chuzavkov

Nearly three-quarters of the Ukrainian population support sanctions on the highest clergy of the Moscow-connected Ukrainian Church.

This is the results of a survey conducted by the Ilko Kucheriv Democratic Initiatives Foundation (DIF). Both Ukrainian and international media outlets broadly use this non-governmental organisation.

At a press conference at Ukrinform, the Ukrainian state-owned press agency, the DIK said that "the absolute majority of citizens support the president's decision to impose sanctions on the highest clergy of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate (UOC-MP)."

According to DIK, across all faiths, a majority is in favour of imposing sanctions "except for the believers of the UOC-MP themselves." Still, even there, a third of respondents believe that the president did the right thing when he imposed sanctions on the highest clergy.


Respondents were also asked about their vision of a complete ban on the Ukrainian Orthodox Church . The Religious Information Service of Ukraine (RISU) reports that 78 per cent of Ukrainians believe that the government should intervene in one way or another in the activities of the UOC-MP. Among these people, 54 per cent believe that this Church should be banned entirely in Ukraine. Only 12 per cent of respondents believe that nothing should be done in this regard and that only certain possible cases of offences should be investigated.


On Tuesday, the Ukrainian Constitutional Court recognised the law "On Freedom of Conscience and Religious Organisations" as constitutional. This law stipulates that a religious organisation whose decision-making centre is located in an aggressor country must indicate the full statutory name of its religious centre in its title. Thus, the law obliges the Ukrainian Orthodox Church from the Moscow Patriarchate to indicate its affiliation with the Russian Orthodox Church in its name.

The UOC, meanwhile, is not happy with the Court's decision. According to Archpriest Oleksandr Bakhov, the head of the UOC Legal Department, there are no legal grounds for renaming the Church, since the church is independent in its decision-making. Furthermore, according to Bakhov, attempts to forcibly apply the law on renaming the UOC will increase violations of the right to freedom of conscience and religion in Ukraine.

On Thursday, Bakhov said at a press conference that the UOC is not in any way connected to Moscow. According to Bakhov, all links to Russia have been removed from the UOC statutes and the governing centre of the Church is located in Kyiv. However, as RISU reported on Sunday, Ukrainian authorities did find "propaganda materials glorifying Vladimir Putin, Kirill and "Russian peace"".



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