Lawyer: UOC to appeal DESS "religious expertise" in court
According to Archpriest Nikita Chekman, there are no grounds to consider the conclusion of the State Ethnopolitics "experts" about the UOC as objective.
The lawyer of the Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra, Archpriest Nikita Chekman, is preparing a lawsuit that will challenge the conclusions of the "religious expertise" of the Charter on the management of the UOC, organized by the State Service for Ethnopolitics and Freedom of Conscience. This was said by the lawyer and the priest in an interview with dialogtut.org.
According to Fr. Nikita, “there is a judicial prospect of appealing against this expertise,” which “violates the rights of all religious organizations that are part of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church as a religious association.”
“We requested from the State Service for Ethnopolitics and Freedom of Conscience all materials related to the examination: protocols and video recordings of the meetings of the expert group, because all meetings were held under full video recording,” the lawyer said. “We have received confirmation from the DESS that these materials are being prepared, we have officially paid for the production of the necessary copies – these are 200 pages and information carriers with video recordings. As soon as we receive it, we will begin to process and determine the next steps to challenge this examination.”
Father Nikita noted that according to the law “On Freedom of Conscience and Religious Organizations”, the DESS has the right to conduct religious examinations, but there is no legal act to regulate the procedure for their conduct. As an example, he named the law "On Forensic Expertise", which "clearly spells out the procedure for conducting expert examinations, the qualifications of experts, etc."
“However, in the case of DESS, we see what the "experts" were. These are people who, even before the moment of their so-called examination, voiced a negative attitude towards the UOC. This can be tracked through open sources – in particular, through social networks, where "experts" placed posts with value judgments about the Ukrainian Orthodox Church. Therefore, there is no reason to consider their conclusion objective,” the lawyer said.
He also expressed bewilderment due to the fact that the "examination" of the Charter of the UOC was carried out on the basis of the statutory documents of the ROC.
“This is the same as determining the legal status of the occupied Ukrainian territories according to the Constitution of the Russian Federation. There is the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, there is the Charter on the management of the UOC, adopted on May 27, 2022 with amendments. So on what basis was the analysis of the Statute of the ROC carried out? The Russian Orthodox Church can write anything for itself – this is their right,” said the lawyer.
As reported by the UOJ, the rector of the Kyiv Theological Academy and Seminary, Archbishop Sylvester, said that in the face of a possible ban on the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, there is a need for an independent examination of its Statute with the involvement of European experts.