U.S. diplomats in Ukraine spoke with officials about supporting religious minorities - State Department

14.05.2021, 09:39
Ukraine and world
American diplomats in Ukraine, including Charge d'affaires A.I. of the United States Kristina Queen, spoke with officials of the President of Ukraine Office, ministries and members of Parliament about the importance of fair and transparent treatment of religious groups after the establishment of the OCU, protection of religious heritage sites, support for religious minorities, and countering the growing manifestations of anti-Semitism.

This is indicated by the report of the U.S. State Department on religious freedom, Voice of America reports.

"Embassy officials continued to call on the government and religious leaders to practice tolerance, restraint and mutual understanding to ensure respect for everyone's religious freedoms and preferences," the report says.

The document indicates that in Ukraine, Jehovah's Witnesses have claimed unpunished attacks on their followers and the detention of members allegedly for draft evasion.

During the reporting period, the report indicates that the government was trying to balance tensions between the Orthodox Church of Ukraine and the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate, which compete for parishioners and parishes. The report also cites media reports that Russia continued to use disinformation to deepen the conflict between the two Churches.

The independent monitoring group for the rights of national minorities reported 4 documented violent cases of anti-Semitism during the year, compared to none since 2016. Again, there were reports of vandalism against Christian monuments, Holocaust memorials, synagogues, and Jewish cemeteries; and temples of Jehovah's Witnesses," the report notes.

According to the report, American diplomats in Ukraine called on religious groups to resolve property disputes peacefully through dialogue with officials.

"Embassy officials continued meetings with internally displaced Muslims and other religious minorities from Crimea to discuss their inability to practice their religion in the Russian-occupied Crimea. In August, embassy officials met with Metropolitan Klyment and discussed pressure on the church in Crimea," the report says.

As noted by Radio Liberty journalists, the report of the U.S. State Department also indicates that religious groups that are not approved by Russia face restrictions in the territory of ORDLO, controlled by the Moscow-backed "DPR" and "LPR" groups.

"According to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, most religious groups recognized under Ukrainian law continued to be unable to re-register due to the strict legal requirements of Russian law preventing or deterring re-registration. Many religious groups continued to refuse to re-register because they did not recognize the power established by Russia in the "DPR" and "LPR," the State Department was quoted as saying by Radio Liberty.

According to the U.S. State Department, reports on the situation with religious freedom in specific countries are based on materials prepared by U.S. embassies in those countries based on information from officials, religious groups, NGOs, journalists, mass media, etc.

"The State Department is guided by the principle that all relevant information should be presented as objectively, fully and honestly as possible. Meanwhile, the motivation and accuracy of sources are not the same, and the State Department is unable to confirm all the information contained in the reports independently," the U.S. State Department points out.