Official explains seizure of church in Stary Gvozdets by "spiritual needs"

Answering the question of A UOJ journalist about the October takeover of the church in the village of Stary Gvozdets, Ivano-Frankivsk region, by the supporters of the UOC-KP, the Director of the Department for Religious and Ethnic Affairs under the Ministry of Culture Andrei Yurash explained that "the believers satisfied their spiritual needs". He said this at a press conference "Results and Challenges of the State-Confessional Policy in Ukraine" held at the "Ukrinform" agency on November 21.

"Article 8 of the Ukrainian legislation (the Law of Ukraine" On Freedom of Conscience and Religious Organizations ") guarantees each community of believers to freely create and freely change (subordination). A community is a freely established community of the faithful to meet their religious needs. There was a meeting of the religious community of vlg. Stary Gvozdets, where, according to the protocol, only 4 people disagreed with the change of jurisdiction," the official said. "Respectively, on the basis of legislation, the Ivano-Frankivsk regional administration, I think, ensured the realization of this right."

"In the vast majority of cases, conflicts did not arise, since the entire community completely transferred to the Kyiv Patriarchate." At the same time, the official clarified that he was not ready to name specific examples of such transitions in the Ivano-Frankivsk region, but thought "that it is not difficult to find them."

Andrei Yurash recalled "law No. 4128", designed, as he said, to resolve conflict situations, which will arise without the adoption of this bill.

"The process is already systemic," Yurash continued. "You know the sociological data that say that in the vast majority of communities an internal majority can be formed, which is often ready to change juridical affiliation."

It should be noted that in the village of Stary Gvozdets there is no registered religious community of the UOC-KP, and the "law No. 4128" mentioned by the official is a bill repeatedly criticized as carrying a threat to the country's religious stability, which makes it possible to carry out church raiding in any confession of Ukraine, because it provides the right to non-members of a religious community to influence its decisions.

Recall, on October 15, the head of the village council and representatives of the Kyiv Patriarchate held a meeting of residents of vlg. Stary Gvozdets, voting for changing the canonical subordination of the religious community of the Holy Dormition Church. The very religious community of the UOC did not participate in this "referendum".

On November 4, despite the court's decision, the police took the side of the raiders and assisted in taking over the church.

On November 12, the head of the UOC-KP eparchy "Bishop" Julian, with the support of the Kolomyia police, ignoring the protests of the UOC faithful, held a "service" at the Holy Dormition Church of Stary Gvozdets. Rector Nikolai Kushnir and his numerous flock have to conduct divine services under the walls of their own church.

NGO "Public Advocacy" in its report noted that the law enforcement agencies could be accountable for increased crime on religious grounds in Ukraine.

In November 2016, the "Ukrainian sociology service" presented the data of its survey conducted throughout Ukraine, including the uncontrolled territories of Ukraine: the results confirmed the status of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church as the most numerous denomination of the country. The polls of other services are not so complete and often cause questions.
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