Bishop Victor: Zolochiv authorities demonstrate hatred for UOC believers

Bishop Victor (Kotsaba) of Baryshevka. Photo: protiktor.com

Head of the UOC Representation to European and International Organizations warned that violation of believers’ rights in Zolochiv may receive international publicity.

Representatives of the Zolochiv local government demonstrate hatred for UOC believers, said the head of the UOC Representation to European and International Organizations, Bishop Victor (Kotsaba) of Baryshevka.

“Again, we can hear slanderous statements of various persons, including clergymen of other faiths, that the UOC allegedly “does not read the funeral service over ATO soldiers” and “helps the enemy”. It should be noted that such statements and actions are classified in any civilized country as open manifestations of hatred for a religious group, in this case – the Ukrainian Orthodox Church,” the UOC Information and Education Department cites the words of Bishop Victor.

The bishop reminded the participants of the “veche” against the UOC in Zolochiv that Ukrainian and international laws prohibit “obstructing the legitimate actions of the owner, regardless of how he plans to use the building he owns”. He also recalled that in Ukraine, which has undertaken a number of obligations to fully protect human rights in its territory, freedom of religion is guaranteed.

“No one can forbid a clergyman to worship at home or in other structures at the request of the faithful and in their presence,” Bishop Victor emphasized.

In his opinion, the statements and comments of some representatives of the authorities and the local government of the Lviv region regarding repair and construction work in the private section of the UOC cleric in Zolochiv indicate these people’s complete ignorance with respect to the issues of discrimination and the rule of law provided for by international law.

The bishop also drew public attention to the fact that the desire of the representatives of Zolochiv local government to ban the UOC cannot be realized in Ukraine, "which guarantees the international community the observance of legal standards and established in its legal norms criminal liability for inciting religious hatred".

“The Ukrainian Orthodox Church is a religious organization that unites citizens of Ukraine, operates in Ukraine under current legislation and provides pastoral care to all who need it, without dividing people on political or other grounds. According to the current legal order in Ukraine, a ban on a denomination that legally operates is impossible,” he stressed.

The head of the UOC Representation to European and International Organizations reported on a verification initiated by the representative office of the facts of violation of the believers’ rights in Zolochiv. If these facts are confirmed, they will receive international publicity, said Bishop Victor.

He also noted that defamation by activists and clergy of other faiths should receive an assessment of law enforcement agencies.

“We express hope that law enforcement agencies will take it into account. In the event of an inappropriate response to legal reports of an offense against UOC believers, the UOC Representation to European and International Organizations will make additional appeals to the bodies of the international human rights mechanism on the basis of UN conventions and resolutions providing for mandatory consideration of cases of violation of human rights by public servants and public political figures,“ concluded Bishop Victor.

Earlier, the NGO “Public Advocacy” began checking the facts of violation of the rights of UOC parishioners in Zolochiv.

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