Moscow Patriarchate prefers enmity and unfair accusations

24.09.2019, 12:41
Speech at the OSCE Conference in Warsaw

Speech at the OSCE Conference in Warsaw

Ladies and gentlemen!

It is sad to say that, as in the past, religious and secular representatives of the Russian side, including representatives of the Moscow Patriarchate from Ukraine, use the opportunities of international meetings to spread propaganda, directed against the independent Orthodox Church of Ukraine.

First of all, this concerns the ongoing accusations of allegedly taking place "the seizure of churches" of the Moscow Patriarchate in Ukraine.

Religious communities in our country have the status of a legal entity and, in accordance with the general right to freedom of conscience and religion, as well as in accordance with the laws of Ukraine, have the right at their general meeting to decide on withdrawal from the jurisdiction of one religious association and joining another religious association. The Moscow Patriarchate is trying by all available methods to prevent communities from realizing such a right. For this, disinformation, extreme pressure, intimidation of activists, pressure on authorities and the like are used.

The Orthodox Church of Ukraine has consistently advocated for the observance of the right to freedom of conscience and religion, including the right of a religious community to freely determine the religious center to which it wishes to submit. We actively cooperate with representatives of the OSCE and other international organizations in these matters.

As we stated earlier, we are open and ready for a constructive dialogue with representatives of the Moscow Patriarchate in Ukraine, including on mechanisms for realizing the rights of religious communities.

Unfortunately, as before, instead of dialogue, the Moscow Patriarchate prefers enmity and unfair accusations.

Another important topic that requires an immediate response from the international community is the persecution of the Ukrainian Orthodox community led by Archbishop Clement, by the Russian occupying authorities occurring in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea. Hiding behind the decisions of the Russian courts, authorities in occupied Crimea have taken away the church from the religious community of Saints Volodymyr and Olha in Simferopol. Representatives of the community turned to the UN Human Rights Committee, which took up the issue and demanded that the Russian side stop the eviction of the community from the church - but this requirement has also been ignored. This week, authorities began the “inventory of property” of the church with the goal of finally expelling the community from it.

This is just one of many examples of the persecution, pressure and intimidation experienced by Ukrainian Orthodox communities in the Russian-occupied Crimea and in parts of Donetsk and Luhansk regions. We ask the international community to take all possible steps so that Russia, in the regions of Ukraine captured and occupied by it, adheres to its obligations and does not violate the right to freedom of conscience and religion.

We recommend OSCE ODIHR and SMM in Ukraine start monitoring the violations of the freedom of religion and beliefs in Crimea, the Russian occupied region of Ukraine, especially regarding the execution of the UN Human Rights Committee decision. We also recommend to the Russian Federation fulfill its obligations and end the religious persecution in the occupied territories.

Thanks for your attention.

Archbishop YEVSTRATIY,

Representative of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine to the European Institutions

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