Destiny of contested churches in Rivne region to be decided by court

31.12.2014, 10:21

The religious communities in Rivne fail to share several churches between themselves. In Ptich village of Dubno district and Badivtsi village of Ostroh district most people choseto move to the UOC-KP. However, the minority is not going to concede rural churches. So the clashed took place again near churches last week. So it is not the first month that the controversies between supporters of different religious communities have continuedin Rivne region. As Rivne Vechirne reports,it is obvious that they will not end by Christmas.

Two weeks ago in Badivtsi, the adherents of both parishes had a fight.The Kyiv Patriarchate then declared that the fight was provoked by roughnecks brought by the UOC (MP). After the fight, at the last sessionregional deputies decided to intervene in the conflict and asked the SSU to control that no strangers were brought deliberately to the village. In this village 90% of people support the Kyiv Patriarchate. The church wassealed, but last Friday the UOC-KP representatives and villagerswere also not alone –they succeeded to enter inside the church with the help of the Right Sector activists.

The same actions were taken in Ptich. However, the village was divided almost equally: 40% of villagers insist that the Church should remainin the Moscow Patriarchate. Proponents of the latter have already blocked the highway Kyiv-Chopseveral times to defend the temple, because the church is located just over the road. The last time the international road was blocked on Saturday. After theKyiv Patriarchaterepresentatives had entered the church, the UOC (MP) supporters were on duty the whole night. A special police unit arrived in Ptich to prevent bloody clashes. As witnesses state, someone ofthe men were holding axes in their hands.

Finally, the leadership of both parishes agreed at a meeting with law enforcement officials that the temple in Ptich would be sealed again until the conflict is solved by peaceful measures. The court shall determine which denomination is to keep the churches in the villages where the majority decided to move to the UOC-KP.

Roman Smith, leader of the Right Sector, who participated in the conflict, said that the villagers are likely to open the church earlier, as both sides are willing to perform worship:

- Now the negotiations are ongoing and may be they will agree to alternate worship, I want to emphasize that we do not invade churches, as the UOC (MP) claims, we just return themto communities. If the majority of villagers decide that they want to pray in a Ukrainian church, it should be done so. We advocate that there should be a unified local Ukrainian Orthodox Church in Ukraine. It is not by accident that we opened the church in Friday. Previously we had received that information that on Sunday the Moscow Patriarchate had planned to bring ‘titushkas’ and arrange a fight in the temple to shed blood. So we helped the Kyiv Patriarchate and villagersto get inside churches to prevent the bringing of weapons there. The rite of dedication of the churches was performed.

Commentary of the Diocese of Rivne, UOC (MP):

- Among the variety of information that may be found today on pages of online media, we would like to highlight and comment on the one relating to the events of December 26-27, 2014 in the village of Ptich, Dubno district. The indignation and protest of Orthodox believers in this village caused by forced seizure of their house, as well as the omission of the authorities to prevent piratical activitiesof the dissenters resulted in a civil action, owing to which the traffic highway Kyiv – Chop was partly blocked.


Repeatedly during the escalation of the conflict provoked by dissenters, Secretary of the Diocese of Rivne, addressing the clergymen and laymenwho gathered at thescene, asked not to block the road completely. The believers who were on the road, had to let the trucks go on this stretch of roadevery 20-30 minutes. Also the believers did not impede the movementof ambulance and the transport thatensured road safety and other special purpose vehicles.

The Diocese of Rivne of the UOC (MP) states that the accusations against Orthodox Christians that they allegedly had blocked the transport coming from the ATO zone, which carried the bodies of fallen heroes, are groundless and scandalous. As the dissenters of the UOC -KP and their supporters,apart from descending to blatant lie, dare cynically speculate thememory of the defenders of ourHomeland.

We officially declare that the clergy and faithful who were present during the blocking of the highway Kyiv - Chop, did not receive any complaints about obstructing the passage of funeral processions of fallen soldiers of the ATO.

In response, representatives of the Kyiv Patriarchate claim: the churches are not seized, they continue to belong to the people, and thevillagers must decide to which jurisdiction their churchshould belong.

During the press conference, Archbishop Ilarion(Protsyk) of Rivne and Ostroh,UOC-KP,stated:

The UOC (MP) is in fact the Russian Church. When people understood this, then there was a massive shift of communities under the jurisdiction of the Moscow Patriarchate to the Kyiv Patriarchate. I assure you that the UOC-KP never seized anychurches or temples of the Moscow Patriarchate. This process is voluntary, and it cannot be stopped, as the Maidan could not have been stopped. Moreover, every time someone accuses UOC-KP ofschism or seizure automatically becomes a party to the action that was well-planned by intelligence services of the Russian Federation.