For years Basilians in Ternopil have tried to gain control of monastery
The government did not meet the deputies' recommendations nor respond to the requests of the Basilians and parishioners of the monastery church because of a lack of funds, according to the official reason. Not only did the government not return church property but it also did not take action to improve the living conditions of the children.
For nearly twenty years the return to the Order of St. Basil the Great (OSBM) of the buildings of the monastery in Krasnopushcha – architectural monuments of the eighteenth to the beginning of the twentieth century – has been put off because of the mentioned reasoned. Back on June 17, 1993, a church was returned to the OSBM monastery, and on October 6, 1998, part of the premises with cells. However, this restitution came to a halt. Only in 2010, after persistent appeals by believers and publications in the local media and on RISU, did the head of the Ternopil Oblast State Administration create a committee in the oblast council and oblast administration to study the living conditions in the boarding school.
Council members, regional administration officials, and the council chair Oleksii Kaida visited the neuropsychiatric institution, whose main building is the monastery. Eventually, two committees of the Ternopil Oblast Council – on Social Policy and Labor and on Matters of Pensioners, Veterans, and Persons with Disabilities – passed a resolution recommending that the oblast administration allocate funds to repair the buildings of the institution. Thus the issue of resettling in the new – compared to the monastery – buildings has arisen during the independent study being conducted of the living conditions, not only because of the complaints of the faithful.
"There would be a scandal if the children’s living conditions were to became known on the international level," said the protohegumen of the OSBM Father Ioanykii Chverenchuk. According to experts, repairing the three buildings where the children would be moved would cost, as of the summer of last year, 1.27 million USD. However, the money for this was not found in the budget for the Ternopil region for 2011.
"The commission, which I head, concluded that the funds need to be allocated. The budget committee supported this decision. Moreover, the committee chair Oleksandr Stadnyk proposed to allocate funds if the budget is exceeded. The suggestion was offered because the oblast administration did not take into account our decision and did not allocate the funds in the budget," Maria Chashka, deputy of the Ternopil oblast council, head of the Committee on Social Policy and Labor and in Matters of Pensioners, Veterans, and Persons with Disabilities, told RISU.
Officials with the regional administration, she said, expressed that they do not object to returning the church property. "Therefore, I am preparing an appeal to the deputy head of the oblast administration on this topic. Once there is an answer, we will know whether the officials intend to take action," continued the deputy.
However, the experience from 2010, when the oblast’s budget was not exceeded and additional funds for redistribution simply did not exist, demonstrates the conditionality of the deputies’ propositions. The best chance to allocate the funds – adopting an annual regional budget – was lost. Now those indifferent to the return of the monastery have to wait at least another six months. But even then the money to repair the buildings of neuropsychiatric institution may not be provided.
"The funds of the budget are distributed according to a formula approved by the Cabinet. This means, in particular, that in the first place the money goes toward salaries, medical supplies, and so forth. I was present when the project was reviewed. There are no opportunities to allocate funds for capital expenditures,” explained Deputy Chief of the Finance Administration Tetiana Churilova. She also mentioned leftover funds, which appear at the end of the year. This is money that is not used and which the oblast council and oblast state administration can distribute.
Leftover funds, however, cannot be directed to the needs of the boarding school building and, accordingly, for the restitution of church property. After all, the administration of finance still does not have reports on the use of funds. Finance managers must submit these documents in February.
Nevertheless, believers have not given up and continue to write appeals not only to the oblast council and the oblast administration but also to the Cabinet of Ministers, the Parliament, and the president of Ukraine. In their responses, the officials do not explain when and how the building will be returned to the OSBM, but describe how the building was founded in the seventeenth century, that its sponsors were representatives of the Sobieski family, that Ivan Franko and Bohdan Lepky worked in the monastery’s library. The faithful and Basilians, however, say that they are not seeking historical information from the authorities – for this there are books and archives.
The believers will continue to fight for the monastery and are currently preparing an appeal to the United Nations. They are surprised that there are no funds to repair the buildings nor for the restitution of church property for state officials drive expensive cars, fly in airplanes and helicopters, often go on business trips abroad, have official summer homes, and, in addition, allocate tens of millions of USD of taxpayers' money to build churches of a particular denomination.
In 2009, 1.8 million UAH was allocated from the regional budget to maintain the Berezhanskyi neuropsychiatric boarding school building in Krasnopushcha, while in 2011, as director of the institution Volodymyr Boyanovych said, the main estimates are 320 thousand less than in 2010. Currently there are 90 children and 70 workers in the boarding school. The director confirms that the institution did not receive capital expenditures in 2010. “On our own we managed to install new roofs in three buildings, where the children are to be transferred," said Boyanovych.
"For the building that will house 20 people the renovation only needs to be finished. We need interior doors, a bathroom, showers, and sinks,” he added.
The director of the institution did not make it clear whether he was ready to start transferring the children to the buildings, when at least one of the three buildings is ready. The faithful and head of the monastery Father Stephen Romanyk would consider even a partial transfer a sign of good will.
After all, the head of the monastery is skeptical about resolving the problem though the allocation of money.
"It would be nice, but a lot of promises were made and none were kept. And the children are being kept in unsuitable places, and the monastery cannot operate," said Father Stephen.
Bohdanna Oleksyshyn, first deputy head of the labor and social policy administration, promises to do everything possible in order to resolve the issue.
So, to add up, from the time of RISU’s first publication of the address of the faithful and the OSBM asking to move the neuropsychiatric institution from the monastery – on December 14, 2009 – there has been success in one area – in recognizing that the monastery is no place for the neuropsychological institution.
On the other hand, other than verbal assurances of the authorities, the matter has not been resolved.
Moreover, RISU found while studying the problem of restitution of church property in Krasnopushcha that the system used to calculate pensions and support for the minors is raising other issues. They receive money on bank cards and the closest ATMs to the institution are more than 20 km away. The children don’t have the means to go there and thus they ask the medical orderlies to withdraw money or buy something. Boyanovych assures that he personally makes sure there are no violations.
"We have strict control," said the director of the institution.
The children, however, as was witnessed by the correspondent, often complain about their living conditions and ask for cigarettes.
Additionally, another fact concerning the monastery buildings and buildings of the neuropsychiatric institution was published. Hennadii Mazur, a resident of Zakarpattia, sent his nephew, Andrii Rakitskyi, to the institution after the death of Andrii’s parents. The uncle, on becoming the guardian of a child with a mild mental illness, sold his apartment and left him in the care of the state. Mazur promised to buy a new apartment for his nephew by spring 2010, but as he did not, Andrii was adopted by a family from Zborov. Boyanovych, as director of the boarding school, expresses his support. However, when the church property was expropriated in 1946, the monastery was a place to serve God, while now there are things happening with the monastery that contradict Christian ethics, though they are often outside the field of legislative regulation.