Priest in Sumy region found guilty of separatism
A verdict of guilty was delivered for a criminal offense under section 110 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine “encroachment on territorial integrity and inviolability of Ukraine”.
The case was heard by Kovpakivskiy District Court of Sumy. The case file states that the accused is a priest of the Diocese of Sumy of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (Moscow Patriarchate), married, with two young sons. The diocesan administration and the SBU refused to tell the name of the priest.
The court found that in May-August 2014 the resident of Sumy was on the side of supporters of the so-called “militants” and called for entry in Sumy region into “Novorossia”, urging to armed opposition to the National Guard of Ukraine and ATO forces in eastern Ukraine.
Among the evidence available was the priest’s page in Vkontakte social network, where he called to changes the boundaries of the territory of Ukraine, gathering support separatists in Donetsk and Luhansk regions. In particular, he wrote the following phrase: “Does anyone know when the anti-Maidan gather in Sumy? Sumy is Novorossia!”.
“Thus the accused committed the acts in the form of public appeals and distribution of the materials calling for intentional action to change the boundaries of the territory or state border of Ukraine in violation of the order established by the Constitution of Ukraine, qualified as criminal offense under Article 110 Part 1 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine – encroachment on the territorial integrity and inviolability of Ukraine,” goes the sentence.
The priest fully admitted his guilt. The court sentenced him to three years of conditional sentence with a two-year probationary period.
However, the Diocese of Sumy of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church state that the convict is not their priest. “This person is banned to serve and is not a regular clergyman of the Diocese of Sumy of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church”, goes the statement of diocesan press service.
The statement also says: “The Diocese of Sumy of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church does not support any activity that may harm the integrity of our Ukrainian state or facilitates external interference that may threaten the coexistence of people with different ideological positions. The Diocese of Sumy also rejects the idea of separatism and division of our homeland in any form, and calls to show brotherly love to the nation, regardless of origin, language, religion, socio-political views, etc., and believes unacceptable inciting hatred to person for ethnic and religious differences”.