Сourt proceedings between UOC and Ministry of Culture are underway

Minister of Culture of Ukraine Yevgeny Nishchuk

The court begins to consider an appeal against the decision of the Kiev district administrative court, which defended the rights of believers to register communities.

On November 6, 2018, the court begins to consider the appeal of the Ministry of Culture of Ukraine against the decision of the Kiev District Court on the claim of the UOC on the registration of religious communities. The head of the Legal Department of the UOC Protopriest Alexander Bakhov announced this on his Facebook page: “Ask for prayers! Today, the court begins to consider the appeal of the Ministry of Culture.”

On December 25, 2014, March 27 and May 29, 2015, the UOC Legal Department filed ten sets of documents with the Ministry of Culture to register the statutes of the communities. Statutes were not registered.

A year later, on June 2 and August 8, 2016, the Ministry returned all these documents "for revision".

The Church fulfilled the requirements of the Ministry of Culture before July 15, 2016, and informed the latter about it. However, no formal decisions on the registration of communities followed.

The Legal Department of the UOC appealed to the Kiev District Court with a request to resolve the situation.

During court proceedings, representatives of the Ministry of Culture stated that “all the statutes of religious organizations of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church submitted for registration do not comply with the legislation of Ukraine”, the deadlines for considering documents were not violated, and the UOC has no authority to file such documents.

The Ministry called the return of the statutes for revision “the legal form of refusing to register them on the basis of Part 1 of Article 15 of the Law of Ukraine ‘On Freedom of Conscience and Religious Organizations’”.

The statement of the Ministry of Culture on the “legal form of refusal” was “critically evaluated” by the court.

Following the results of the proceedings, the court issued a decision in which it reminded the authorities of their constitutional duty “to act only on the basis, within the limits of authority and in the manner envisaged by the Constitution and the laws of Ukraine”.

The court recognized the actions of the Ministry of Culture as "illegal" and obliged the agency "to consider essentially the issue of the registration of statutes of religious organizations on the basis of the sets of documents that were submitted".

The authorities did not agree with this decision and appealed against it.

Protopriest Alexander Bakhov explained that if you do not register a church community as a legal entity, it will be easier for outsiders to take away its property. According to the priest, such activity of the authorities is aimed at the destruction of the UOC.

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