Since the beginning of the occupation, the number of religious organizations in Crimea has halved, and that of the OCU parishes decreased by six times
Head of the State Service for Ethnic Policy and Freedom of Conscience Olena Bohdan stated this during an online press conference in Ukrinform.
"According to official data, before the occupation, at least 2,220 religious organizations representing 43 denominations operated on the Crimean Peninsula. As of the end of 2020, the Russian Federation has already reported 907 religious organizations representing about 20 denominations. That is, the number of religious organizations and denominations decreased more than twice," Ms. Bohdan said.
She also noted the complicated situation with the Orthodox Church of Ukraine.
"Over the years of occupation, the activities of this church have become close to impossible. As of the beginning of 2014, the Crimean Diocese of the OCU consisted of 45 parishes, which were handled by 14 clergy members. However, at the beginning of 2022, the dioceses already have had only 7 parishes and 4 clergy members. Thus, parishes decreased by more than 6 times, and clergymen by more than three times. In such conditions, the OCU is on the verge of its functioning and may be completely ousted from the temporarily occupied Crimea," Ms. Bohdan said.
At the same time, she stressed that actions aimed at seizing and seizing churches destroying the church building of the OCU in Yevpatoria could be qualified as war crimes from the point of view of the provisions of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.
Bohdan added that such an organization as Jehovah's witnesses was banned. In 2017, the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation recognized it as extremist. At the end of January 2022, 5 people of this religious community were imprisoned in Crimea, and another 9 were restricted in movement.
"The label of extremist activity is also put on the Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar people since Crimean Tatars are mostly Muslims. When arrests are made on charges of "illegal missionary activity", Muslims and the Crimean Tatar ethnic identity suffer. This is because the Crimean Tatar community has been taking an active position all this time regarding the need to return Crimea to the control of the Government of Ukraine," the head of the State Service for Ethnic Policy and Freedom of Conscience noted.
According to her, today, Baptists and Jews fell under this article, and this article was also applied to the priest of the OCU.
"Within the framework of such proceedings for the so-called illegal missionary activity, in 2021, several resolutions were already adopted, and fines were collected in the amount of at least 370 thousand rubles. If we look at the entire period of occupation, the number of fines amounted to almost 2 million rubles," Ms. Bohdan said.
She recalled that one of the reasons for the persecution of people is the fight against Hizb ut-Tahrir because this is a convenient way for propagandists to imprison a person who turned out to be inconvenient.
As it was previously reported, the All-Ukrainian Council of Churches and religious organizations called on world leaders, OSCE, EU and NATO member states to take urgent measures to introduce a no-fly zone over the territory of Ukraine or provide the Ukrainian army with modern air defense systems and fighter planes that can protect Ukrainian civilians from regular bombing and missile strikes by Russian invaders.