Orthodox lawyers: Banning the UOC, local officials violate laws

Officials who made illegal decisions should be prosecuted, the UOL believes. Photo: Pravdainform.com.ua

The "Union of Orthodox Lawyers" made a statement on the illegal attempts of officials and politicians at the local level to stop the activities of UOC communities.

The decisions of local officials and politicians to terminate or suspend the activities of communities of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church are illegal and criminal, for which law enforcement and central authorities should bring them to criminal responsibility, the human rights organization Union of Orthodox Lawyers said on its Telegram channel.

The organization believes that the attempts of local authorities to ban the UOC at this extremely difficult time discriminate against parishioners of the largest Ukrainian denomination, split Ukrainian society and violate domestic legislation.

It is noted that the activities of a religious organization can be terminated only by a court decision in case of violation by a religious organization that is a legal entity of the provisions of the legislative acts of Ukraine in clearly regulated cases. At the same time, only the body, authorized to register the statute of a particular religious organization or the prosecutor, can file a claim with the court.

“Local executive authorities and local self-government bodies are not empowered to suspend / terminate the activities of a religious organization,” the UOL said. “Persons guilty of violating the law on freedom of conscience and religious organizations bear responsibility prescribed by the legislation of Ukraine.”

In this case, the mayors' actions to suspend / terminate the activities of a religious organization constitute a criminal offence under Part 3 of Art. 161 (Violation of the equality of citizens based on their race, nationality, regional affiliation, religious beliefs, disability and other grounds), part 1 of Art. 180 (Obstruction of the performance of a religious ceremony), Art. 356 (Self-government), part 2 of Art. 364 (Abuse of power or official position) of the Criminal Code of Ukraine.

Orthodox lawyers call on the central authorities and law enforcement agencies to immediately stop this lawlessness and bring to justice all those who commit it.

As the UOJ reported, the authorities in Brovary banned the UOC “due to martial law”, while the mayor of the city, Igor Sapozhko, announced that the ban also applies to monasteries, hence the territorial defense unit will be located in the territory of the UOC monastery in Kniazhichi.

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