UOC hierarch: Seizure in Zabolotye inspired by State Dept Secretary’s words

Bishop Victor (Kotsaba). Photo: Vz.ua

Local authorities, "Municipal Guard" reps, as well as those who have nothing to do with the temple and were hired in a Viber group, participated in the church seizure.

The head of the Representation of the UOC to European international organizations, Bishop Victor (Kotsaba) of Baryshevka, stated on his Telegram channel that the words of US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, said to the head of the OCU Epiphany Dumenko during his visit to Kyiv, led to the seizure of the UOC temple in Zabolotye.

“A few days ago, we wrote that the words of US Secretary of State Antony Blinken about ‘the removal of artificial obstacles in the free, based on the principles of freedom of conscience, determination of their communities’ affiliation’, said by him recently in the capital of Ukraine, can be perceived by individual Ukrainian officials as a call for action, which will lead to a new wave of seizures of UOC churches. And today it became known that in the village of Zabolotye ... there was another seizure of an Orthodox church by the OCU activists ... with the direct participation of two district deputies and representatives of the ‘Municipal Guard’," wrote Bishop Victor.

The hierarch of the UOC drew attention to several factors at once during the seizure of the temple in Zabolotye.

“Participants in the seizure of the temple were recruited in a Viber group. That is, these people have nothing to do with both the temple itself and the religious community that gathers in the temple."

"The locks on the church were cut off, which can already be charged as a violation of the current legislation, and representatives of the Orthodox community are simply not allowed inside the church."

And thirdly, “the people's representatives, who, according to the Constitution of Ukraine, should treat the representatives of all confessions equally, took part in this illegal action. Besides, those who were supposed to keep order – representatives of the "Municipal Guard" – also took an active part. "

According to him, all these facts raise the question: "Are these ‘the principles of freedom of conscience’ that the high representative of the country from overseas spoke about, or is it ‘the removal of obstacles’ on the way of these ‘principles’?"

“In the case of affirmative answers to these two questions, it becomes obvious that the ‘obstacle’ is the UOC itself. And this ‘obstacle’ is really serious and big because today the Ukrainian Orthodox Church remains the largest denomination of Ukraine,” resumed Bishop Victor.

As previously reported, the hierarch of the UOC said that Blinken's words could be understood as a call for new seizures of churches.

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