Konotop mayor orders to dig roads to UOC temples, to cut electricity, water
A video posted on the Web shows how Konotop mayor orders to dig up roads around UOC churches.
Around 13:00 on April 14, 2020, a video was published on the Web in which Konotop mayor Artem Seminikhin ordered to dig up roads around the UOC temples, to cut off the electricity and water supply for the churches, and terminate the lease agreement with them. This video was posted on Facebook by Spartak Sergienko.
"An excavator. Let it dig a road around the churches of the Moscow Patriarchate, let the electricians cut off the light, and let the water service company turn off the water for them. Look what they've posted now all over the residential area. <...> Let them prepare a decision for this session to break all lease agreements with Moscow churches," the Konotop mayor ordered in a video and instructed lawyers to "immediately" write a statement to the police on his behalf so that a criminal case could be opened against the clerics of the UOC.
On the same day, leaflets that caused a negative reaction of the mayor appeared on the Web.
The authors of the leaflets (printed on paper without the seal of the eparchy or church and the signature of the clergymen – Ed.) remind believers of the need to wear medical masks and keep a distance of 2 meters, and also that only 2 people can enter the church at a time only to pray briefly and light candles. The elderly and people with SARS symptoms were urged in the text of the leaflet to stay home and make a private prayer. Believers were also warned that the consecration of Easter cakes would begin on Great Saturday, from 14:00 (such a practice of stretching the time of consecration was suggested in some places in order to avoid crowding – Ed.).
At 16:47 of the same day, the Konotop mayor published on his Facebook page a video message to residents and clergy of the UOC, in which he said that the Commission for Emergency Situations has forbidden to perform religious rites in the city. The exception is funerals. All other rites the clergy can perform "only within the temple" and without parishioners, said the official.
"I want to draw special attention to this ban of priests of the Moscow Patriarchate, who already yesterday began to put up the invitation to the consecration of Easter cakes all over Konotop," he appealed to the clergy of the UOC.
The mayor of Konotop urged them "to fear God" and "not to try to earn any advantages" compared to the UOC-KP and the OCU, as well as promised to protect parishioners from "Moscow priests”.
"I tell you: I will be tough on you. I know that many believers are parishioners of the Moscow Patriarchate. It’s they who I'm going to protect from you, Moscow priests,” said Semenikhin. “You won’t be happy that you are wearing that cassock if, God forbid, one of the people gets infected with COVID-19 thanks to you".
Earlier, Dnipro mayor Boris Filatov also threatened the UOC with excavated roads near churches if priests want to "risk the health of people" at Easter. After the threats, the city's public utility services really dug up the entrance to one of the temples to interfere with worship.
Later, the Dnipro authorities forbade people to leave their homes on Holy Saturday and at Easter.