In Kopytov raiders, assisted by SBU and police, seize the UOC temple

St. John the Theologian temple, Kopytov village

During the confrontation, the invaders beat believers of the UOC and cruelly mistreated the priest who had to call an ambulance.

Contrary to the agreements reached with state officials and law enforcement officers, today, on April 13, at around 13:00, the raiders seized the St. John the Theologian temple in Kopytov village, Korets district, Rovno region. According to eyewitnesses, the seizure took place with the participation and full support of representatives of law enforcement agencies, the UOJ correspondent reports.

“Our believers gathered in the morning in the church for worship, then served a lity for the dead and began to read an akathist,” said Irina Balk, a parishioner of the UOC Church. “All of a sudden our opponents started to flock from everywhere, quite a lot of people came from neighboring villages, the police. We stood at the entrance to the temple, activists of the OCU began to beat and throw us away, the police did not intervene for only a few minutes, then began to throw our people down the stairs, while our priest was merely dragged behind the gate where activists attacked him, kicked him in the back, pushed as if driving him out of the village."

Afterwards, the supporters of the new church structure opened the locks, which they themselves had hanged a few days ago, and entered the temple.

The residents of the village said that the process of seizure was led by officials and not only of regional subordination.

“They carefully had planned everything and kindled hostility in the village. The district deputy came with documents that he showed to the police and argued that we were not registered and the OCU was the only owner of the church,” said Irina, the UOC parishioner. “When the assault began, I cried, begged both the police and my fellow villagers. I am the mother of an ATO soldier, he has been on the front line in Mariinka for two years but no one has heard this; they called me and my brethren in faith bad names. What are you doing, folks, are our soldiers now fighting in the east for such arbitrariness?”

Archpriest Victor Zemlianoy, head of the Department for inter-confessional settlement at the Rovno diocese of the UOC, considers an inter-church dispute in Kopytov where Vladyka Pimen, the vicar of the Rovno diocese, was born to be ordered and artificially created.

“During the seizure of the church, representatives of the Security Service of Ukraine were present, our people asked them to introduce themselves but they didn’t give their names, only positions,” Father Victor commented on the situation. “According to the accounts of the people, it was from these two unknown that orders were issued concerning the actions of the police.” Also, local residents reported that during the forceful seizure of the temple, lots of people suffered not only psychologically but also physically: one woman, a UOC believer, was hospitalized, the priest had to call an ambulance.

As the UOJ reported, on April 10, 2019, the St. John the Theologian church in Kopytov was attacked by church raiders, which was initiated by the police chief of the Korets district department. During the attack, one of the OCU activists began to threaten the rector of the temple with cutting his face. On that day, the believers did not allow the locks of their temple to be cut off and after 6 hours of confrontation, the parties agreed to seal it up until the issue had been resolved in the legal field.

However, on April 11, after the unknown set fire to the household building of the head of the newly formed OCU community, the activists accused the believers of arson and violation of the agreements and cut the locks on the temple. Then the rector and his family were threatened with reprisals.

On April 12, the believers of Kopytov village and the clergymen of the Korets deanery turned to the police and the Korets District Administration to protect the parishioners and the head from aggression from the OCU activists. The officials promised to take all the necessary measures to prevent the exacerbation of the conflict in the village.

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