Orthodox Protesters Demand Resignation of Head of Committee on Religious Matters

04.02.2002, 16:12
(Religiia v Rossii, 31 January 2002)Approximately 80 persons picketed on Thursday in Kyiv at the building of the Committee on Religious Matters, demanding the resignation of the head of the committee, Viktor Bondarenko, and an end to governmental interference in church affairs. The protest was organized by the Russian Movement of Ukraine, the Union of Orthodox Brotherhoods of Ukraine, and the Union of Orthodox Citizens of Ukraine.

As the leader of the Kyivan "Russian Movement of Ukraine" organization, Vasily Kuleshov, told the "Interfax-Ukraine" news agency, the state does not have the right to interfere in church affairs with the goal of creating a united local Orthodox church of the Kyivan patriarchate which, according to his information, Bondarenko is trying to do. The picketers held posters with the slogans "No to unconstitutional interference in church affairs!" "Russian Orthodox Church is local and united," "Greek Catholics- -autocephalous and independent from Vatican." The majority of the protest's participants were elderly persons, many of whom held icons and sang Orthodox church songs. The Russian Movement of Ukraine was created in 1999. Now it unites 120,000 persons and its divisions are registered in all regions of Ukraine. According to data of the State Committee of Religions, of 24,000 religious organizations existing in Ukraine, 12.5 are Orthodox. Of them the leading ones are the Ukrainian Orthodox Church-Moscow Patriarchate [UOC-MP], more than 9,000, the Ukrainian Orthodox Church-Kyivan patriarchate [UOC-KP], around 3,000, and the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox church [UAOC], more than 1,000. Among non-Orthodox confessions the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church has the greatest number of parishes (3,500-3,700). At the same time according to sociological surveys, 34% of believers in Ukraine identify their confessional adherence with UOC-KP; 18%, UOC-MP; 2%, UAOC. At the end of the past year a number of politicians and religious leaders accused Orthodoxy of intending to resolve the problems of the Ukrainian Orthodox churches by administrative means. In particular, the head of UOC-KP, Filaret, declared that on 24 October 2001 the cabinet of ministers adopted a resolution for conducting a number of events in the religious sphere within the bounds of the Year of Ukraine, in Russia. Bondarenko then explained that he was talking about "an internal document of the ministerial cabinet which does not have normative force and cannot have an impact on the course of the state in this matter." He said that the state is interested in the resolution of the inter-Orthodox conflict and it will deal with this matter within the limits permitted by law. (tr. by PDS, posted 1 February 2002) Source: http://religion.russ.ru/news/20020131-n1.html Photo: UNIAN