Head of “Svoboda” party in Novomyrhorod threatens UOC priest with reprisal

The head of the Novomyrhorod branch of the VO "Svoboda" Vadim Batiy. Photo: facebook.com/Vadim Batiy

The representative of the "Svoboda" party threatened the priest of the UOC with physical violence and "garbage lustration" if he does not stop working as a teacher.

The priest of the UOC Yaroslav Kushniruk was threatened and pressured by the head of the "Svoboda" party branch in Novomyrhorod, Vadim Batiy, for teaching history at a local school, reports the UOC Information and Educational Department.

The threats began when Batiy posted on his Facebook page a long-known fake video in which a disguised member of Korchinsky's "Brotherhood" poses as a monk of the Pochaiv Lavra and makes provocative statements.

“Here's what you need to know about the Moscow Church!!! And here a Moscow priest teaches history at school!!!” Vadim Batiy signed the video.

Since there are no more priest-teachers in the town who teaches history, it is clear for local residents even without direct mention of Father Yaroslav Kushniruk who the man is. Therefore, the priest turned to the politician with a request to explain and substantiate his accusations.

Instead of explaining, Batiy went to the head of the joint territorial community (JTC) the next day and demanded that the priest be fired from the school.

“When all this was unsuccessful, on August 9, at about 12:00 pm, he met me in the town center, near the house of the Regional State Administration, and began to put pressure on me psychologically,” said Father Yaroslav. “Then there were threats of physical violence if I didn’t get resigned from the school, and hints of the so-called “garbage lustration” (the practice of lynching, when a person is beaten and insulted, and for more humiliation thrown into a garbage can – Ed.).”

The priest denied accusations of propaganda, agitation and anti-Ukrainian position. For ten years of work at school, neither children nor superiors have ever complained about him.

“I have remained a faithful son of my people, my state and my Church,” stressed Father Yaroslav. “My fault, from the point of view of Mr. Vadim Batiy, is only that I am a priest of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church.”

Archpriest Yaroslav noted that he made this case public not for his own sake but because he was afraid that harassment just for belonging to the UOC would become commonplace.

“If I remain silent today, then such people will come tomorrow and demand the dismissal of doctors, heads of various institutions, saleswomen and drivers from their posts just because they are parishioners of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church,” the priest said. “I am not afraid for my life, but I am afraid for my three-year-old child, who was in the car at the time of threats from Mr. Batiy. I am afraid that tomorrow the children of other clerics will be humiliated as it was in communist times only because they are children of UOC priests. I am afraid that tomorrow a fire of discord, which unfortunately today is already burning in certain regions of Ukraine, will be sown in our peaceful Novomyrhorod community, with the seizure of churches, beating of priests and parishioners, aggression, hatred, strife and division."

As reported, another politician of the VO “Svoboda” urged to take away churches from the UOC and expel His Beatitude.


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