OCU enters state register under the name of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church
On January 30, 2019, the OCU was officially entered into the State Register under the dual name – the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (the Orthodox Church of Ukraine).
The name of the legal entity - “Kiev Metropolis of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (the Orthodox Church of Ukraine)” – fully coincides with the current name of the UOC.
The official name of the OCU literally duplicates the name of the UOC – "Kiev Metropolis of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church", but without specifying it in brackets.
The founder of the legal entity is listed as the “Local unification council of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine, which took place in Kiev on December 15, 2018,” and the head of the church as Epiphany Dumenko, “the Metropolitan of Kiev and All Ukraine”—the title and position rightfully held by His Beatitude Metropolitan Onufry of the canonical Church.
Protopriest Nikolai Danilevich, the spokesperson for the UOC, said: “You don’t have to be a lawyer to understand that this is lawlessness. Legal names cannot be duplicated. How could state organs register another Kiev Metropolis of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church if one already exists? Raiders!”
Lawyers believe that this will lead to legal confusion since it would not be clear from the name of the religious community whether it belongs to the UOC or to the OCU.
We recall that on December 22, 2018, President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko signed the anti-church bill No. 5309 “On Amendments to the Law of Ukraine ‘On Freedom of Conscience and Religious Organizations’ regarding the name of religious organizations which are a part of the structure of a religious organization whose administrative centre is outside Ukraine."
According to human rights defenders, Law No. 5309 is discriminatory and contrary to international law. Oleg Denisov, head of the NGO Public Advocacy, explained that UOC religious organizations are independent legal entities and their unique names are protected by international law as unique corporate names.
Lawyers emphasize that no law can force a religious organization as a subject of private law to change its name, and even if religious organizations of the UOC do not obey the order of the Ministry of Culture and do not change their names, they are not deprived of their rights, including tax benefits.