Russia restricts religious freedom in Crimea
Russian repressive laws have “significantly reduced religious freedom” in the annexed Crimea, in particular, Russia has refused to register the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Kyiv Patriarchate on the peninsula. This is stated in the annual report of the US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), which documented violations of freedom of religion in 28 countries of the world in 2017, Radio Liberty has reported.
“According to the UN, there were about 2,200 religious organizations in Crimea, both registered and unregistered. As of September 2017, about 800 were recorded. The UOC-KP refused to register, considering the occupation illegal. The UGCC, apparently, is also not registered,” the message says.
The document also states that in June 2017, in accordance with the decision of the Russian Supreme Court to ban the Church of Jehovah's Witnesses, all 22 local religious organizations representing 8 thousand parishioners were officially banned on the territory of Russia annexed by Crimea.
International organizations recognized the occupation and annexation of the Crimea illegal and condemned Russia's actions. Western countries introduced a series of economic sanctions. Russia denies the occupation of the peninsula and calls it “the restoration of historical justice.” The Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine officially announced the date of February 20, 2014 as the beginning of the temporary occupation of Crimea and Sevastopol by Russia.