Information on prosecution of Archp. Viktor Zemlianoy by SBU filed with UN

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Data on the opening of criminal proceedings by the SBU against the archpriest of the Rovno Eparchy are filed with the UN for the report on human rights violations.

In May 2019, Bishop Victor of Baryshevka, the head of the UOC Representative Office at European International Organizations, gave information on the opening of criminal proceedings against the head of the Rovno Eparchy’s Department for Resolving Interfaith Conflicts, Archpriest Viktor Zemlianoy, at the request of the UN Special Rapporteur to prepare the annual report “Impunity for human rights violations and abuses against human rights defenders”. This information is published on the site of the UOC Information and Education Department.

Vladyka said that in accordance with international legal standards, every person who protects the rights of believers on a permanent basis is a human rights activist. Archpriest Viktor Zemlianoy has been doing human rights advocacy for the protection of the rights of UOC believers in the territory of the Rovno Eparchy for several years.

The case initiated against Archpriest Viktor Zemlianoy has drawn the attention of international human rights organizations, including the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).

“In particular, since 2015, with the assistance of Archpriest Viktor Zemlianoy, more than 15 complaints from religious communities and believers of the Rovno Eparchy have been sent to the UN structures, namely the Special Rapporteur on Religion and Belief and the Human Rights Council. Thus, the human rights activity of Archpriest Viktor Zemlianoy is carried out within the UN structure and reinforces his status as a person informing the UN about the violation of the rights of believers of the UOC,” the head of the UOC Representative Office at European International Organizations noted.

Bishop Viktor said that in May the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights circulated among human rights organizations a request for “acts of intimidation and repression for cooperation with the United Nations in the field of human rights” to prepare the annual report of the UN Secretary-General “Cooperation with the United Nations, its representatives and mechanisms in the field of human rights”.

“Considering that the nature of the charges against Archpriest Viktor Zemlianoy testifies that he is being persecuted for protecting human rights and for reporting violations of the rights of believers in UN structures, information about this case will be considered in accordance with international procedures for the protection of human rights defenders,” the hierarch emphasized.

We recall that on March 15, the cleric 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 provides for criminal liability 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 voiced reason for this was Father Viktor’s interview, which he gave to the representatives of the Russian media, participation in the Arkady Mamontov films “Persecution” and “Operation Mazepa”.

As the UOJ reported, earlier the head of the UOC Representative Office at European International Organizations sent an appeal to officials of the UN, OSCE, EU and other countries in connection with the facts of mass violations of human rights in Ukraine and the real threat of escalation of religious conflicts.

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