Head of Law Department: There are no legal grounds for liquidation of UOC
Some signs of violation of the law are observed in the activities of the OCU and the UOC KP, but the Ministry of Culture continues to put pressure on the UOC.
There are no legal grounds for deregistration or liquidation of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, said the head of the Legal Department of the UOC Protopriest Alexander Bakhov, commenting on the statement of the Ministry of Culture of Ukraine that the activities of a religious organization that refuses to comply with the requirements of the law on name change can be terminated by a court decision. The UOC Information and Education Department cites the commentary of the lawyer.
“To date, there are no legal grounds for deregistration or liquidation of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church,” said the head of the Legal Department. “Instead, we see that the Ministry of Culture is trying in every way to put pressure on the religious communities of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church in order to force them to rename themselves. Various threats are also heard to deregister the religious organizations of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church.”
According to Fr. Alexander, Art. 16 of the Law of Ukraine “On Freedom of Conscience and Religious Organizations”, referred to by the Ministry of Culture, determines specific cases according to which the activity of a religious organization may be suspended. Changing the name is not a reason for that.
“In particular, in order to terminate the activities of a religious organization in court, I emphasize, in court, this may be a violation by a religious organization of legislation in some cases envisaged by Art. 16 of the Law of Ukraine ‘On Freedom of Conscience and Religious Organizations’,” the lawyer said and clarified what the article specifically provides for.
“Firstly, if a religious organization violated Arts. 3, 5, 17 of the Law of Ukraine “On Freedom of Conscience”. In particular, Art. 3 guarantees the right to freedom of conscience to every citizen of Ukraine and this right includes the right to accept, change religion, belief, etc., that is, it is emphasized that a person has a free choice of religion. Art. 5 refers to the separation of church (religious organizations) from the state. Art. 17 establishes the procedure for the use of property owned by the state, public organizations or citizens.
Secondly, the combination of the ritual or preaching activities of a religious organization with encroachments on the life, health, freedom and dignity of a person.
Thirdly, the systematic violation by religious organizations of the procedure established by law for holding public religious events (worship, rites, ceremonies, ceremonies, processions, etc.).
Fourthly, inciting citizens not to fulfill their constitutional duties or actions that are accompanied by gross violations of civil order or encroachment on the rights and property of the state, public or religious organizations,” explained the head of the Legal Department.
He stressed that the issues of the name change do not overlap with the specified grounds, according to which the activities of a religious organization can be terminated in court.
At the same time, the activities of a number of other religious organizations, in the opinion of Fr. Alexander, may well be suspended, according to the above reasons.
“In particular, the newly formed Orthodox Church in Ukraine, the Kiev Patriarchate are subject to some of the provisions of this article, according to which their activities can be terminated. Do they seize property? – Yes, they do. Do they disturb the order? – Yes, they do. Do they incite sectarian strife? – Definitely. But for some reason, the Ministry of Culture does not seek to stop their activities in court,” the head of the Legal Department of the UOC stated.
As the UOJ reported, on February 5, 2019, a meeting of representatives of the eparchial legal departments of the UOC was held at the Holy Dormition Kiev-Pechersk Lavra, in which lawyers discussed issues of legal support for religious organizations and recent changes in the legislation of Ukraine on freedom of conscience and religion.