Brass knuckles, bats, tear gas: details of attack on Mikhalcha church

Eyewitnesses told the details of the storming of the UOC temple in Mikhalcha. Photo: the Information Department of the Chernivtsi Eparchy

Mikhalcha believers, who have been standing in prayer and guarding their church for almost two years, spoke about today's attack by supporters of the OCU.

Participants in another attack on the Holy Dormition Church in the village of Mikhalcha of the Storozhynets district, Chernivtsi region, which took place on December 12, 2020, came to seize the UOC temple with brass knuckles, sticks and tear gas. A video with eyewitnesses’ comments was published on the “Pravoslavnyi Zhurnalist” YouTube channel.

“Today is the year and ten months since we started standing in prayer. Today there was an attack on our church by strangers and residents of the village of Mikhalcha, supporters of the OCU. They sprayed gas at us, beat us with spade handles. Look what they have done to our church – they are not people but vandals,” said the Orthodox residents of Mikhalcha.

The believers noted that this is the third attack on their temple. After the previous ones, the last of which took place in November 2019, members of the UOC community have been guarding around the clock the parish territory and have also installed video cameras and a warning siren.

This morning, they said, supporters of the OCU damaged the cameras, broke down the siren and pushed those on duty out of the church fence, blocking their entrance. To prevent the believers of the UOC from entering the temple grounds, they hung chains on the gate. People who tried to approach their church were pushed out with the words "Moscow out".

When the rector rushed to the temple, then, according to eyewitnesses, church raiders began to beat him in the chest with sticks so that the priest fell to the ground.

“They called themselves patriots of Ukraine. And what kind of patriots are they when they destroy their temple? Brass knuckles were seized from one of them and, apparently, many were hiding brass knuckles under their mittens. This is not the first march of people with such weapons on our temple, but the Lord has mercy on us. Today the iron sledgehammer was taken out, a whole armful they had prepared to beat people. The police also filmed that there were firecrackers and smoke bombs,” said the UOC believers of Mikhalcha.

As reported, on the morning of Saturday, December 12, 2020, raiders from the OCU made another attack on the Holy Dormition Church of the UOC in Mikhalcha. Before the arrival of the police, OCU activists, most of whom were specially brought to Mikhalcha to seize the church, tried to enter the temple through the forechurch but failed to get inside.

We recall that since February 10, 2019, the religious community of the UOC in the village of Mikhalcha has been performing a prayer standing for peace in Bukovina and the right to freely confess the Orthodox faith. The community was illegally re-registered into the OCU against its will. Since then supporters of the newly formed structure has been making regular raider attacks on the Holy Dormition Church. During a previous takeover attempt, activists knocked out the doors of the temple with a homemade ram. On December 23, 2019, the village council of Mikhalcha supported the transfer of land under the temple of the UOC to supporters of the OCU.

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How has your life changed since the outbreak of war?
It hasn't changed in any way
My church has been seized by OCU members
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