Head of UOC Law Department: Stocktaking of church property is unlawful

Head of the Legal Department of the UOC Protopriest Alexander Bakhov

Protopriest Alexander Bakhov explained that the property in the churches and monasteries of the UOC is not the property of the state.

The Ministry of Culture has no right to make an inventory of the property of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, chairman of the UOC Legal Department, Protopriest Alexander Bakhov, informed the Information and Education Department of the UOC.

Recently, the media published documents that prove the existence of the September order of the head of the Ministry of Culture to conduct a complete stocktaking of "historical and cultural values."

“All property located in the churches of the UOC is the property of religious communities,” commented Father Alexander. “Even if the building is owned by the state and is used or leased, this does not entitle the authorities to encroach on the property of religious communities.”

The UOC cleric is convinced that the authorities expected to take advantage of the legal ignorance of believers. “Officials are in a position to inspect the “historical and cultural valuable assets” in the case when certain property was transferred to the storage or use by the religious community, as evidenced by the relevant documents – contracts, acts of transfer and acceptance,” he explained.

Protopriest Alexander assumed that, according to the findings of the church property stocktaking, the government hoped to “try to remove it for their own purposes later on occasion – just like during Soviet times”. Then the powers that be also operated with the formulation “historical and cultural values”.

“What are these "historical and cultural values"? There is no such definition in the legislation. What it is about, it is not clear. I once again emphasize the illegality of such claims in relation to the property of religious communities,” said the chairman of the Legal Department.

Father Alexander warned priests and believers that they have every right not to let the auditors of church property even cross the threshold.

In September of this year, the Ministry of Culture of Ukraine began to establish commissions for the evaluation of church property. Earlier, the head of the Legal Department of the UOC, Protopriest Alexander Bakhov had already given clarification on this situation.

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