SBU investigator to Archpriest Victor’s flock: now pray for him
During the interrogation, the cleric was served a notice of suspicion.
The head of the Department for Settlement of Interfaith Conflicts at the Rovno Eparchy of the UOC Archpriest Viktor Zemlianoy was released after 2.5 hours of interrogation at the Office of the Security Service of Ukraine in the Rovno region.
The priest was given a notice of suspicion under Article 161 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine "Violation of citizens' equality based on their race, nationality or religious preferences." The article envisages criminal responsibility for “willful actions inciting national, racial or religious enmity and hatred, the humiliation of national honor and dignity, or the insult of citizens' feelings in respect to their religious convictions”.
The UOC cleric does not have the right to divulge the SBU investigator’s questions, but the flock of Archpriest Victor believes that the church literature seized during searches served as grounds for the interrogation. The parishioners of the Holy Resurrection Church in the city of Ostrog noticed that their rector looked after the interrogation "exhausted and extinct".
They met their prior with flowers, people were crying. The believers invited the investigator who conducted the interrogation to visit their church and see for themselves – Archpriest Victor has never said a single bad word about anyone, and to initiate a case against him for inciting hatred is absurd. One of the parishioners told the SBU officer that Archpriest Victor was constantly praying for him and his colleagues.
“Now you pray for him,” replied the investigator.
On March 13, 2019, Archpriest Victor Zemlianoy, the head of the Department for Settlement of Interfaith Conflicts at the Rovno Eparchy of the UOC was summoned for questioning by the SBU as a witness in the criminal case N22017180000000025.
Archpriest Victor and his lawyer arrived at the appointed time. With them came the parishioners of the Holy Resurrection Church of the city of Ostrog, who want to support their rector, as well as representatives of the clergy of the eparchy.
Over the years of his activity, Archpriest Victor has managed to return to the Ukrainian Orthodox Church three churches seized by schismatics and prevented 27 takeovers of other temples. However, his ministry causes opposition from schismatics, radicals, local authorities, and law enforcement officials.
A slanderous media campaign has been launched against the priest, his family and he receive threats, law enforcement agencies have joined the persecution. In 2017, he was searched: personal belongings and religious literature were seized. Archpriest Victor linked up the pressure of the SBU with his activities to organize the All-Ukrainian Cross Procession. The church literature was the ground for initiating criminal proceedings against the priest.
On December 6, 2018, in the city of Korets, the clergyman was again served with a summons to the Security Service of Ukraine, for which the police stopped the car of Archpriest Viktor Zemlianoy, under the pretext of searching. The cleric of the Rovno Eparchy noted: after the media declared Fr. Viktor a "mouthpiece of the Kremlin," he was ready for something like that. “According to my observations, as soon as articles about me appear in the press, wait for the next steps,” the priest said.