Orthodox Christians of Volyn urge the President to protect their rights

Persecuted communities of the Volyn Eparchy of the UOC during the visit of Cypriot Archimandrite Nektarios (Bakopoulos). Photo: Facebook

Members of the UOC religious communities of Volyn prepared an appeal to Vladimir Zelensky, in which they called for the protection of their constitutional rights.

In connection with the planned visit of President of Ukraine Vladimir Zelensky to the Volyn Region, believers and clergy of the Volyn and Vladimir-Volyn dioceses of the UOC have prepared an appeal to the head of state. The UOJ correspondent managed to get familiar with the text of the appeal in which the Ukrainians welcome the Guarantor of the Constitution of Ukraine and ask him to “stop the atrocities and violations <...> of the rights of [believers of the UOC – Ed.]”.

“We bring to your attention that after the formation in Ukraine of a new religious organization, Orthodox Church of Ukraine, which received the Tomos from the Constantinople Orthodox Church, the development of this structure is carried out for reasons unknown to us solely at the expense of our property, our registered parishes – independent legal entities within the Ukrainian Orthodox Church Churches,” the authors of the appeal said. “At the same time, activists of the new church organization, most often with the support of the administrative resource and the military influence of paramilitary radical groups, ruin and desecrate our temples, seize our real estate – both churches and priestly housing, block our access to church service in the temples built by us or our great-grandfathers."

The believers emphasized that, despite their appeals to law enforcement agencies, atrocities continue and crime investigations are sabotaged or conducted inappropriately. The illegal actions of church raiders since the winter of 2018-2019 have been reinforced by anti-constitutional laws in force on the “transition” of religious communities from one jurisdiction to another, while the invaders have no idea about the current content of these laws, the authors of the appeal noted.

"There is every reason to affirm that the vast majority of re-registrations of our communities ‘in accordance with the law on religious organizations’ actually violates all its norms, not to mention the constitutional rights of our believers," the document emphasized and cited a number of facts that prove the former’s involvement of the leadership of the Volyn Regional State Administration and personally its head Alexander Savchenko, as well as acting chairman of the Volyn Regional State Administration Alexander Kirichuk, in the illegal seizures.

In particular, we are talking about “voluntary transitions” of churches in the village of Bobly, Turiisk District, in the village of Budiatichi, Ivanivichi District, in the village of Myshev, Ivanivichi District, in the village of Dorotishche, Kovel District, and in a number of other settlements of the region.

“We pay tribute to you, your recent decision to sign the Decree on Combating Raiding in Ukraine. It was our church structure of the UOC that suffered most from systematic raider actions, so we were pleased to take your initiative to effectively combat lawlessness and reduce the opportunities for raiders, which in the end, we believe, will help us prevent cases of seizure of our property,” the authors of the appeal concluded. “However, taking advantage of this opportunity to address you as the Guarantor of the Constitution of Ukraine, we ask you to stop those raider actions that are already committed or are in the process of commission.”
 
Earlier Zelensky emphasized that the government should not interfere in church affairs and promised to protect the independence of the Church.

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