In Yapolot’ OCU activists beat parishioners during church seizure

The seizure of St. George's Church in the village of Yapolot’

OCU supporters seized St. George's Church in the village of Yapolot’, Rovno region.

On April 18, 2019, in the village of Yapolot’ of the Kostopol’ district, Rovno region, OCU supporters broke down the doors to the St. George's Church with a crowbar and seized the building. The basis for raiding was the order of the head of the regional state administration on the liquidation of the religious community of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church.

According to eyewitnesses, a lot of men and young people who had not gone to church before gathered around the temple.

“They broke open the doors, beat and pushed women, girls who came to defend the church,” says Galina, a UOC believer. “Our community has legal ownership of the temple, which was not challenged in court. We also gathered in the church, held a meeting, decided to stay in the UOC, our decision is now not taken into account by any of the branches of power, and our rights are violated.”

Local residents claim that the chairman of the Kostopol’ District State Administration Alexander Sereda is involved in the interfaith conflict in the village. It was he who initiated the meeting of the territorial community, helped to quickly register the community of the OCU under the personal data of the UOC.

“Explain to me where else in a law-based country of the world such excesses are possible?” wonders Archimandrite Hilarion, the Dean of the Kostopol’ Deanery of the UOC. “Probably, nowhere, Ukraine is not only the corruption but also the lawlessness leader. The ownership of the UOC religious community of St. George’s Church dates back to 2006 and is still valid. How did it happen that the supporters of the OCU already have an extract from the Unified State Register of their ownership? I am convinced this has not been without the assistance of not only the district but also the regional authorities.”

The invaders themselves claim that they are acting in accordance with the law: they say, the decision to transfer the church to the OCU was legally issued on April 2, and the locks had to be hacked because the priest did not give the keys.

The UOC community intends to go to court. In the meantime, is going to hold services near the church.

“I asked to seal the church so that everything would be legal,” said the rector, Priest Georgy Novak. “The court will decide who is right in this situation.”

The wave of church raiding in Ukraine continues. MP Vadim Novinsky said that all seized temples will be returned to the UOC.

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