OCU activists thwarted in attempt to seize the temple in Riasniki

Proponents of the OCU with the support of local radicals tried to seize the temple in Riasniki. Photo: UOJ

OCU activists, backed by local radicals, tried to seize the church in Riasniki, but more numerous UOC believers prevented the seizure. The community asks for prayers.

As it became known to the UOJ, on August 18, 2019, before the service, there came local supporters of the OCU with several "priests" and radicals from neighboring villages to the church in honor of the Protection of the Mother of God in the village of Riasniki, Goshcha District, Rovno Eparchy of the UOC.

The radicals accompanying activists from the “Brotherhood of Fellow-Thinkers” were involved in all church conflicts of the Sarna-Polesie Eparchy of the UOC.

The OCU activists they want to hold services in the temple, referring to the order of acting chairman of Rovno Regional State Administration Igor Timoshenko.

“The religious community of the UOC of the village of Riasniki is convinced that the next round of church confrontation in the village is power-provoked, because Igor Timoshenko, acting chairman of the Rovno Regional State Administration, issued two orders: on July 9, 2019, which obliges the Goshcha Regional State Administration to draw up a schedule of alternate services in the temple, and on August 9, which approves this schedule, says the human rights activist of Rovno eparchy of the UOC. “The opinions of believers of the UOC were not taken into account at all. We are going to challenge the order in court.”

According to eyewitnesses, the church confrontation at the temple was fierce and lengthy. From 7 a.m. to 3 p.m., both communities kept on arguing and making a point and even got into a fight.

The police, who were informed in advance about possible clashes, were neutral and only intervened after the radicals from the Brotherhood made attempts to seize the temple by force.

“The religious community of the UOC of the village of Riasniki, which is much larger than the community of the OCU, has all the necessary documents confirming that the only legal owners of the church are the believers of the UOC,” comments Archpriest Viktor Zemlianoy, head of the Department for Interfaith Settlement at Rovno Eparchy of the UOC. “True, the security agreement, issued by the Soviets in 1987, was confirmed through a court in 2015 and recognized as valid by land commission at Goshcha RGA. According to this document, our community is responsible for and is the owner of all church property. Therefore, all claims of any other community have no legal basis.”

The chairman of the parish council of the OCU Sergei Shvets thinks differently, which is why he came to the territory of the church with numerous documents and orders.

Local residents believe that it was on his initiative on this day that the Sunday service was disrupted. By their accounts, Sergei Shvets behaves rudely not only in the temple, but also in everyday life. The former ATO warrior, he has a reputation as a fighter and a rude fellow, an initiator of fights, verbal skirmishes with foul language. Recently, Sergei Shvets was held for several days in jail due to unauthorized possession of weapons.

After an unsuccessful attempt to break through to the church doors by force, activists of the OCU tried to enter the temple from the back yard. The church in Riasniki is built on a hill surrounded by the marshland.

According to witnesses, several OCU activists began to walk around the hill singing folk and rebel songs along the way. They were able finally to enter the church territory through the swamp, however, having obviously appreciated the paucity of their forces, they returned to their camp.

After 15 hours, supporters of the newly formed structure began to leave the temple. However, the religious community of the UOC is convinced that another raider attempt is afoot, possibly even on the feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord, therefore they ask all those who are not indifferent to pray intensely for the Lord to help withstand another onslaught.

Recall that earlier acting head of Rovno Regional State Administration Igor Timoshenko issued a decree, according to which parishioners of the Holy Protection church of the UOC in the village of Riasniki should let members of the OCU have alternate services in their temple. The basis for this decree was a statement made by members of the OCU community, which recently re-registered from the UOC-KP in favor of the OCU.

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