UOC Chief Lawyer: Petition for transfer of Kyiv Lavra to OCU is illegal

Head of the Legal Department of the UOC Archpriest Alexander Bakhov. Photo: pravlife.org

Archpriest Alexander explained that the electronic petition for the transfer of the Lavra to the OCU contradicts the Law of Ukraine “On Applications of Citizens”.

There is much hype created by the biased media around the electronic petition published on the website of the President of Ukraine on the transfer of the Holy Dormition Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra to the OCU, commented Archpriest Alexander Bakhov, head of the Legal Department of the UOC, on the appeal and clarified whether it has any legal force.

The petition in question was published on April 15, 2020, on the site of the head of State by Alexei Kravchuk, who considers it “quite fair” for the Lavra to be used by Epiphany Dumenko’s church structure, which is supposedly “recognized by the Orthodox world as an autocephalous Orthodox Church in Ukraine”. As of April 26, the petition has collected 21,568 signatures.

On this day, journalist "Radio Liberty" reminded of this petition in the article "Can Moscow Patriarchate be ousted from Ukrainian Lavras for breaking quarantine?". Though it was mentioned that “it was criticized not only by our Western partners,” the author immediately tried to prove that the UOC could supposedly be liquidated, and then the Lavra could be taken away.

“As of today, there are no grounds for terminating the lease. If they were any, the Lavra would have been taken away under Poroshenko,” the head of the UOC Legal Department commented on the content of the petition under discussion.

He explained that an electronic petition is a form of written appeal in accordance with the Law of Ukraine “On Applications of Citizens”, and anyone can submit it.

“But in this situation, it turns out that according to the author, it is necessary to take away the Lavra on the basis of some statements and news reports of the biased press, as well as the author’s personal hostility to the UOC,” the clergyman noted.

According to the head of the Legal Department of the UOC, this petition is illegal, as it violates Article 231 of the Law of Ukraine “On Applications of Citizens”, which states that “an electronic petition cannot contain <...> the incitement of ethnic, racial, religious enmity”.

“Even if the petition gains 25,000 votes or more, it cannot be considered because it violates the law and incites religious enmity,” the lawyer said.

He recalled that the author is responsible for the content of the petition. According to Article 161 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine, which provides for the punishment of restraint of liberty for up to 5 years for “willful actions inciting national, racial or religious enmity" shall be punishable by imprisonment for a term of five years.

According to Archpriest Alexander, with the help of such petitions and the publications of the biased media about them, adherents of the OCU are trying to find a loophole in order to take away the Lavra.

“The article requires on the basis of fakes that the Lavra be taken away and transferred to another religious organization. And why exactly the OCU? Why them, and not the UGCC or the UOC-KP? The OCU has no monks, who will they reside there? Why do our monks get sick? Because we have monks. And why do their monks not get sick? Because they don’t have monks,” said Archpriest Alexander.

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