UN criticises Ukraine for unfair treatment of UOC


Eastern Europe


The Ukrainian government and local authorities took several measures against the UOC. Photo EPA, Oleg Petrasyuk

Ukrainian municipalities go beyond their authority when banning the Ukrainian Orthodox Church. That is the opinion of the Office of the UN High Commissioner of Human Rights (UNHCR).

Ending a lease agreement or forbidding activities of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (UOC), which is on paper connected to Moscow, is discriminatory, the UNHCR concludes, as reported by SPHZ. These actions go beyond the power of municipalities and local authorities, the UNHCR added.

Between February 1 and April 30, the Office carried out the so-called “UN Human Rights Monitoring Mission in Ukraine”. It recently published the results of this review in a report last week.

During the reporting period, the Ukrainian government and local authorities took several measures against the UOC, the report reads. It mentions examples of searches of churches and other UOC facilities, issued notices of suspicions against clergymen and some cases of house arrest for church leaders. Also, it criticises the early termination of the rental agreement between the UOC and the State concerning the Kyiv Pechersk Lavra.

In April 2023, the report continues, “the city and regional councils of Khmelnytsky, Rivne and Volyn regions banned the “activities of the UOC” in their respective territories after the regional councils of Lviv, Zhytomyr, Vinnytsia and Ternopil regions did so, even though such a ban comes out beyond the powers of local councils.” The UNHCR believes that these acts could be discriminatory.

In addition, the UNHCR points out that the number of hate speech incidents has increased. “Public officials, bloggers and opinion leaders used discriminatory and inflammatory rhetoric and openly incited violence against clergymen and supporters of the UOC. The Government and law enforcement authorities did not effectively address the incidents of hate speech during the reporting period”, the report reads.



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