Ukrainian Parliament passes ban on Moscow-affiliated church


Eastern Europe


View on the Ukrainian Parliament. Photo AFP, Andrii Nesterenko

A ban on the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (UOC) comes closer. The Ukrainian Verkhovna Rada has passed a draft ban on UOC in the first reading.

They did so on Thursday morning, Ukrainian MP Artem Dmitruk told SPHZ. To be passed, the bill needed 226 votes in favour. In total, 267 deputies supported the ban, while 15 showed opposition. Of the Servants of the People party, from which Zelensky is also part, 175 deputies voted in favour of the proposal, according to Pravda.ua.

The bill proposes to adjust legislation that provides for the possibility of "preventing activities of religious organisations whose leadership is located outside of Ukraine in a state that is carrying out armed aggression against Ukraine", Moscow Times states in an article.

The ban is quite controversial, both in Ukraine as well as internationally. Earlier, the ban was removed from the agenda of the Parliament because it would not get sufficient support.

The Ukrainian Orthodox Church is distrusted in Ukraine because of its ties to the Moscow Patriarchate, which is led by Patriarch Kirill. The latter has explicitly voiced support for the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

The vote on Thursday caused some commotion, MP Iryna Herashchenko wrote on Telegram. Some demanded the proposal to be removed from the agenda, as other people on the public tribune attempted to defend the UOC.


A ban on the Ukrainian Orthodox Church is a sensitive issue. Recently, the UN Commissioner of Human Rights published a report in which he accused Ukraine – which officially knows freedom of religion – of severe violations of this right. In wartime, the report states, "people have the right to their conviction." However, Ukraine has taken measures to curb the UOC, which harms people's right to practise their religion. Many places of worship have been searched, physical violence against Orthodox believers goes unpunished, and the Ukrainian government terminated the lease of the ancient monastery Pechersk Lavra in Kyiv, CNE wrote recently.


Even though the UOC has tried to sever the ties with its mother church and supports the Ukrainian army, Ukrainians remain suspicious of collaboration with the Russian forces. On paper, the UOC is also unable to cut ties with the Russian Orthodox Church.

In 2019, the Ukrainian government requested the Patriarchate of Constantinople to recognise another Orthodox denomination in the country, the Orthodox Church of Ukraine (OCU). Many parishes have transferred to this new community, CNE reported earlier.



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