UOC-KP community in Kostyantynivka forced under the authority of the Moscow Patriarchate
A press conference dedicated to "Struggle of the community of the Holy Presentation Church in Kostyantynivka, Donetsk Oblast, for the right to belong to the Kyiv Patriarchate and the obstacles imposed” was held on September 5 at Ukrinform.
The community has been defending such a right for over 3 years. Today, the community faces the danger that it will be forced to return under the authority of the Moscow Patriarchate on the basis of corrupt court rulings, which will provoke a serious exacerbation of the situation in the front-line area.
The statement of the community of the Holy Presentation Church, published by the press service of the UOC-KP, states that “certain representatives of the Ukrainian government” by their actions complicate the potentially explosive situation of the Holy Presentation Church of the UOC-Kyiv Patriarchate’s Diocese of Donetsk located in the frontline area.
The document also notes that court decisions in the case of the community jurisdiction are taken in favor of the UOC-MP. On September 7, the Economic Court of Appeal of Donetsk region will consider the case of the transition of the religious community to the Kyiv Patriarchate.
“Today there is unofficial information that the court session has already been “paid for” in favor of the Moscow Patriarchate, and the local clergy of the UOC’s Horlivka Diocese tell the parishioners in their sermons about organizing the capture of our Holy Presentation Church by the Moscow Patriarchate right after the trial,” the document says.
In connection with the situation, the community of the Holy Presentation Church have appealed through the media to law enforcement agencies of Ukraine, the General Prosecutor's Office, the SBU to prevent such lawlessness, to pay attention to corruption in the courts, to protect from abuse of power a sole Ukrainian Orthodox community in Konstantynivka.
“We are determined to defend our rights and will not allow separatists and corrupt people - whether in robes, or in judges' mantle, or in bureaucratic suits - to mock us, our Orthodox faith and patriotic feelings,” the statement says.
The event was attended by Archbishop Yevstratiy (Zorya), the spokesman of the Kyiv Patriarchate, Archpriest Konstiantyn Kuznetsov, rector of the Holy Presentation Church, Yuri Shapran, the head of the parish council and patron of the church building, Donbass-Ukraine specialist battalion commander “Filin”, Serhiy Zayets, a lawyer, an expert of NGO ‘Regional Center for Human Rights’ and Andriy Akulov and Maria Bayrachna, representatives of the religious community.
The Holy Presentation Church community joined the Diocese of Donetsk of the UOC-KP in 2015, observing all the provisions of the current legislation. The decision on its transfer was taken at the appropriate meeting of the community, its statutory documents were registered according to the established procedure with Donetsk Regional State Administration. The community of the UOC-KP was also allocated a land plot and a newly built temple. The reason for the transfer of the community, according to the statement, was “the awareness of the criminal role of the Moscow Patriarchate in the occupation of Crimea and part of Donbas, unwillingness to remain the center of propaganda of the “Russian world.”
The proceedings in the case of the legal affiliation of the religious community continue. The community representatives argue that “in fact, all courts that considered this matter, have completely ignored the law, facts, the community stance, and did not made their rulings under the laws of Ukraine, but according to the regulations of the Moscow Patriarchate, motivating their decisions by the fact that the community was to receive permission of the Diocese of Horlivka of the UOC-MP for its decision to leave the Moscow Patriarchate’s jurisdiction.
During the last hearing of the case by the Supreme Economic Court of Ukraine, the notice about the time and date of the case was served in such a way that the community representatives received it at 14:00 on the day of the meeting, which began at 11:30. “We believe that this was done deliberately in order to be able to resolve the case in favor of the Moscow Patriarchate and its patron sponsors,” the parishioners emphasize.
On September 7, the case will be reviewed by the Economic Court of Appeal of Donetsk region.