UOC hierarch files a complaint with police about inciting interfaith strife

Metropolitan Luke of Zaporozhye and Melitopol (Kovalenko). Photo: Zaporozhye Eparchy website

The ruling bishop of the Zaporozhye Eparchy filed a complaint with the police about the illegal actions of the “Demokratychna Sokyra” (“Democratic Axe”) political party.

On June 3, 2019, Metropolitan Luke (Kovalenko) of Zaporozhye and Melitopol submitted to the police a statement about the illegal actions of the “Demokratychna Sokyra” (“Democratic Axe”) political party, which incite interfaith strife and hatred in society, reports the Zaporozhye Eparchy website.

The reason for the appeal was the publication of the party placed on May 24, 2019, on its Facebook page. In this publication, members of the party called the Orthodox "bitches" ("socially used concept, equated to expletives in almost all Slavic languages," said Metropolitan Luke) and explicitly stated their intention to harm them.

“We don’t want to see them in our land, we want them to feel hot and uncomfortable here,” wrote the authors of the post.

“Having concerns about the content of this publication and the general content of the page @ sokyra.party.zp (Demokratychna Sokyra. Zaporizhzhya) on the social network www.facebook.com, the Zaporozhye Eparchy Administration of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church represented by Metropolitan Luke (Kovalenko Andrei Viacheslavovich) of Zaporozhye and Melitopol, is compelled to turn to you with this statement, in order to protect the clergy, believers and society as a whole from illegal actions that are currently being carried out by a group of persons with the aim of inciting religious enmity and hatred," Metropolitan Luke said in a statement.

He drew the attention of law enforcers to the threats and groundless accusations of the clergy of the canonical Church that, allegedly, “during the years of independence, these men in cassocks have seized a lot of churches or plots for churches”. The ruling hierarch of the Zaporozhye Eparchy highlighted as alarming the fact that publications of similar content are copied and placed on their pages by more than 30 people, and an unlimited circle of people can see and read them every day.

The UOC hierarch considers Alexander Lebid’ (the author of the publication) and Yuri Gudimenko (a member and leader of the party, who has previously been prosecuted for criminal offences) the organizers and executors of these deliberate illegal actions.

The bishop called on law enforcement officers to enter the statement to the Single Register of Pre-Trial Investigations and to start investigating the facts of committing an offence, criminal liability for which is provided for by part 3 of Article 161 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine.

“If there is a lack of proper response to the timely and comprehensive investigation of this offence by law enforcement agencies, the Zaporozhye Eparchy Administration of the UOC will seek assistance from the Commissioner for Human Rights of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine, national and international human rights organizations, in particular, the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and human rights, the methodological guidelines of which were used to qualify the acts of the perpetrators and compile this statement,” concluded Metropolitan Luke.

The UOJ editorial board reminds that in case of the violation of the rights of the episcopate, clergy, laity, and institutions of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (obstruction of worship, seizure of churches, provocation and pressure, threats, etc.), you should immediately contact the Legal Department of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church by phone: 097-537-55-96.

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