UOC-MP intends to appeal the court's decision on renaming their denomination
The UOC MP's Legal Department made this announcement, as reported by Pravoslavnaya Zhyzn (Orthodox Life).
On May 15, 2023, the District Administrative Court issued a decision denying the UOC MP's lawsuit against the Ministry of Culture of Ukraine, seeking to declare the renaming of religious organizations unlawful and cancel the relevant order. Simultaneously, the court revoked the measures taken to secure the lawsuit, which had prohibited changes to the Unified State Register and the renaming of UOC MP religious organizations since April 22, 2019.
According to the UOC MP's Legal Department, the court's decision was made with substantial violations of material and procedural law, as well as the absence of necessary facts in the case materials, which constitutes grounds for appealing the court's decision.
The Legal Department emphasized that the District Administrative Court had dealt with complex legal relationships involving over a hundred participants within six working days. Consequently, the court's decision contained errors such as confusing the plaintiffs and the defendant, attributing actions to them that they did not commit. The court also considered changes to the contested order made by the defendant 2.5 months after its issuance as grounds for the case, using conclusions from a 2023 expertise of the State Service of Ukraine for Ethnopolitics and Freedom of Conscience instead of a 2019 expertise conducted by the Ministry of Culture.
Therefore, without summoning the parties or other participants and without clarifying their positions, the court considered documents that were created four years after the issuance of the contested order, i.e., documents that did not exist at the time of the defendant's unlawful actions, the Legal Department emphasized.
Currently, the decision of the District Administrative Court is not legally binding, and therefore, all restrictions on carrying out any registration actions concerning information contained in the Unified State Register of Legal Entities, Individual Entrepreneurs, and Public Formations regarding UOC religious organizations remain in effect. The Legal Department also stressed that, despite the court's decision, there are currently no grounds for changing the names of the religious organizations belonging to the UOC.
"In accordance with the unlawful court decision, an appropriate appeal complaint will be submitted within the timeframe provided by law," concluded the Legal Department of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church.
On December 20, 2018, the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine adopted the bill No. 5309, "On Amendments to the Law of Ukraine 'On Freedom of Conscience and Religious Organizations,'" which obliges religious organizations whose governing centers are located in a country recognized by the Ukrainian Parliament as an aggressor country to indicate this fact in their official names. The Ministry of Culture conducted a religious expertise, which determined that five religious organizations, including the UOC MP, fall under the provisions of the law. The Kyiv Metropolis of the UOC MP appealed to the Kyiv District Administrative Court to defend its rights.
It should be noted that on May 15, the Kyiv District Administrative Court recognized the affiliation of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (Moscow Patriarchate) to the Russian Orthodox Church.