Novaya Moshchanitsa believers to President: We are persecuted, protect us!
For the past 3 months, we have not been allowed to live in peace, members of the UOC religious community told Vladimir Zelensky.
The parishioners of the Church of the Nativity of the Holy Theotokos in the village of Novaya Moshchanitsa, Rovno region, recorded a video message to the President of Ukraine Vladimir Zelensky, in which they asked him to protect their right to freedom of religion.
OCU activists illegally seized their church and continue to persecute the believers and the family of the rector, Archpriest Igor Gnatishin. Supporters of a new religious organization regularly come to the house of the clergyman, where the UOC community now holds its services. Fr. Igor and his family are physically threatened.
“We, the religious community of the Nativity-of-the-Holy-Theotokos parish of the village of Novaya Moschanitsa, appeal to you, Mr. President, Vladimir Alexandrovich, with such a request and prayer to protect us, my family, our community from this chaos that occurs in our village. For the past 3 months, we have not been allowed to live in peace in this village. There are constant threats,” Archpriest Igor addressed the President on behalf of his congregation.
A UOJ correspondent visited the village and learned that men from among the parishioners have to guard every day at the house where the reactor lives with his wife and children in order to be able to protect them. The police at this time are inactive.
“I am worried about my family, I’m worried about their health, because lately there have already been threats to my health, my life, and my family,” said the priest.
According to him, he is registered in this house and has lived there with his family for 23 years. The building belongs to the UOC community, which is confirmed by the relevant documents on the right of ownership.
“These representatives of the OCU failed to physically evict us, they are attempting to morally break us. No matter how many times we go to the police, how many statements we write, everything remains one-sidedly considered. We just do not seem to exist. Our people are being constantly humiliated by the representatives of the OCU. They call us "Moskals", write all kinds of bad things,” commented Fr. Igor.
He worries about his community as the young activists of the OCU behave aggressively towards the parishioners.
“When I saw yesterday them in such a drunken rage, with their fists, showing a complete disgrace to 70-year old women, calling them every name and feeling some pleasure from it. It was so painful to watch young people offending old women for their unwillingness to go to their church,” the priest added.
He stressed that he did not betray his community – they all remained faithful to the UOC. And he remembered that initially the supporters of the newly created religious organization collected signatures for him to stay in the village and join the OCU. Now he is being driven from the village.
“Nothing has changed here, only the walls where we hold services have changed. <...> We do not want anything but to be left alone. Let us quietly serve in the temple. If I leave, where do these people go? We ask you to protect my family and our community,” Archpriest Igor address Zelensky.
Earlier in Novaya Moshchanitsa, the UOC laity were forced to transfer their children to another school because of persecution. “This is a necessary measure because the main initiators of the seizure of our church are the teachers, they have kept the family of our priest in suspense for the third month in a row, they are stirring up the village, they persuade local men to show aggression. And this weekend, when a clash occurred in the courtyard of the priest and OCU supporters beat the man who came to the defense of the priest, the teachers filmed this outrage on the phone,” said one of the children’s mothers.