MFA of Ukraine requests Russia to stop religious persecutions in Crimea
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine has issued a statement on blocking by the Russian occupation authorities of the main Church of the UOC-KP in Crimea. The document contains a request for the Russian Federation “to immediately restore the unhindered access of believers of the UOC-KP to the church in Simferopol, to stop religious persecution and interference with the activities of the Crimean diocese of the UOC-KP and to ensure the fulfillment of obligations under international law.”
The Ministry has appealed to the international community, in particular the European Union and its member states, to the United States, Canada and other democratic countries, international organizations, in particular the UN, the Council of Europe and the OSCE requesting to condemn the attack on the Ukrainian temple in Simferopol.
“The Russian occupation authorities are pursuing their policies aimed at obstructing the activities of the UOC-KP in the temporarily occupied territory of the Crimea, and does everything possible to stop its activities in the Crimea. From the beginning of occupation, the Russian Federation of Crimea on the peninsula has been seizing the premises of the church, has been illegally capturing its property and searching in its premises and exerting pressure on clergymen. Such actions by the occupation authorities are constitute a systematic violation of fundamental human rights and freedoms, in particular freedom of conscience and religion, norms of international law,” goes the statement, issued by the press service of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
“Deep concern” over the Russian authorities’
Actions towards the communities of the UOC-KP was also expressed by the Ministry of Culture.
“We call on international human rights institutions to pay attention and react to this and other facts of the deliberate suppression of the centers of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church in the territory of the annexed Autonomous Republic of Crimea. Once again, we emphasize that the faithful of the Ukrainian Church in Crimea suffer for their own convictions due to the non-adherence of fundamental human rights by the occupants,” goes the statement of the Ministry of Culture.
The Ministry has also sent an appeal to the General Prosecutor's Office of Ukraine, the Prosecutor's Office of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and other law enforcement agencies with a request to provide a legal assessment of the violation of the rights of believers specified in this appeal.
As RISU has already reported, in the morning of August 31, Russian special services blocked the Church of the Holy Equal-to-the-Apostles Princes Olga and Volodymyr of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Kyiv Patriarchate in Simferopol. Andriy Shchekun, director of the state-owned enterprise “National newspaper and magazine publishing house”, says that the property of the Ukrainian temple in the Crimea is damaged.
According to Refat Chubarov, the head of the Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar people, the secret services have applied force towards Archbishop Klyment, injuring his hand.
The archbishop said that the bailiffs removed from the temple the cross, church utensils, rare icons, porcelain and crystal tableware donated to the church, as well as the carpets.
Prior to this, he repeatedly stated that after the annexation, the UOC-KP in Crimea had experienced constant pressure from the Russian-backed authorities. In June 2016, the “Court of Appeal” of Sevastopol ordered the Crimean Diocese to vacate the premises on the ground floor of the Cathedral of Simferopol and pay a fine of RUR 500 thousand (approximately UAH 215 thousand).
The Prosecutor's Office of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea has said it will respond to the actions of Russian security forces.