Clergy of UOC-MP in Rivne charged with state treason and inciting religious hatred
In Rivne, the SBU (Security Service of Ukraine) interrogated several priests of the Moscow Patriarchate. They are defendants in two criminal proceedings, in particular under the article “state treason”. Over a dozen UOC-MP clergy have been subpoenaed, according to the TSN.
Initially, they did not give any comments and after the first interrogations they made a speech. Almost three dozens of priests of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate gathered at the staircase. As it turned out, 12 of them were called for interrogation, the rest of them came as support. Initially, the clergymen refused to comment: say, they do not know what the SBU needs from them. But in two and a half hours they came out with a statement.
“Our priests, especially one of our priests, are illegally incriminated with some far-fetched offences. We will support our priests and we will ask God and all people to pray for those people who were charged on no grounds," said the vicar of the Rivne Diocese of the UOC MP, Bishop Pimen.
The charges under articles are “state treason” and “violation of equal rights of citizens based on their race, nationality or attitude to religion". According to unofficial information, the SBU investigates the spread of Russian propaganda literature by some clerics of the Moscow Patriarchate, and this is already in the context of Russian aggression on the territory of Ukraine. The security service did not share any details of the case due to secrecy of investigation.
“Twelve clergymen are being interrogated as witnesses in open criminal proceedings. I cannot provide information about the peculiarities of the pre-trial investigation, since I do not have a relevant permission of the investigator,” said Inna Iliuchok, a spokesman of the SBU of Rivne region. The clergy call the SBU's actions lawlessness. They deny the fact of pro-Russian propaganda on their part. They say, they only distributed brochures on the split of the Church.
“It was a publication with explanation of the split, not something against the state, not something that could undermine the foundations of statehood. Our priests have always served, serve and will serve God and their people, that is, the people of Ukraine,” says Bishop Pimen.
Clergymen say: if necessary, they will hire lawyers. Meanwhile, according to the SBU, as soon as the investigators ascertain that dissemination of information will not damage the investigation, they will be ready to reveal details of the case.