SBU changes the suspicion against Archpriest Viktor Zemlianoy

Archpriest Viktor Zemlianoy, head of the Department for the Settlement of Interfaith Conflicts at the Rovno Eparchy of the UOC. Photo: Information and Education Department

Criminal proceedings against the clergyman were opened more than two years ago, their term expiring on August 15, 2019.

Archpriest Viktor Zemlianoy, head of the Department for Interfaith Regulation at the Rovno Eparchy of the UOC, was handed the next summons to the SBU which is going to inform him of a change in suspicion in the criminal proceedings instituted against the clergyman 2 years ago. This was reported by the UOJ correspondent.

On August 5, 2019, on the day of the celebration of the Pochaev Icon of the Most Holy Theotokos, Father Viktor has to come to the Office of the Security Service of Ukraine in the Rovno region to "be informed about changes in the previously reported suspicion within criminal proceedings."

Previously, the clergyman was charged with articles of the Criminal Code 111 and 300 (high treason and distribution of illegal literature). Having not found enough evidence to bring the case to court, the SBU changed the article according to which the Archpriest will be handed in a relevant document.

We mean article 161 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine – violation of equal rights of citizens in respect of their race, nationality or religion. This article provides for imprisonment of 2 to 5 years.

It is noteworthy that the term of criminal proceedings, opened more than two years ago, expires on August 15, 2019. The lawyers of the accused priest believe that the SBU is trying to charge him with the suspicion and to begin consideration of the proceedings in court in order to avoid transferring the case to the Prosecutor General’s Office.

Recall that earlier Archpriest Viktor Zemlianoy told why the SBU had opened a criminal case against him. The clergyman is convinced this is due to his active work in protecting the rights of believers of the UOC – over the years of his activity, the Archpriest has been able to return three temples, illegally seized by the schismatics, to the Ukrainian Orthodox Church and to prevent 27 seizures of other temples.

On March 28, 2019, the Rovno City Court denied the prosecutor and the SBU investigator to take a preventive measure on Fr. Viktor, and in May this year, the State Bureau of Investigation began to investigate the legitimacy of the actions of the SBU in the case of the Archpriest.

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