Shepetivka: State employees’ signatures to close UOC temple being collected

Radicals tried to seize St Michael's Cathedral in Shepetivka. Photo:

After the town authorities and the OCU failed to seize St Michael's Cathedral in Shepetivka, believers started to be pressured.

After an unsuccessful attempt to seize St. Michael's Cathedral in Shepetivka (Khmelnytskyi Eparchy) on May 7, the town administration organized the collection of signatures for its closure among public sector employees and random passers-by on the street.

According to UOJ sources, parishioners have been subjected to pressure and received threatening phone calls. One priest reported "demonstrative surveillance" from a car with tinted windows. Several UOC worshippers have been boycotted at work – their colleagues stopped speaking to them because they go to an "enemy" church.

These actions are supervised by the head of the Operative Division of the Khmelnytskyi Territorial Department of the State Security Service of Ukraine, P.V. Fomin.

When believers in Shepetivka asked the authorities about the reasons for a "vote" and the "transfer" of the church to the OCU, representatives of the town council referred to the Law of Ukraine "On the Legal Regime of Martial Law," the text of which does not contain any reference to religious organizations.

According to the UOJ sources, in the village of Sudilkov, Shepetivka district, UOC priests are also threatened, and the authorities do not allow them to serve even in the cemeteries.

Meanwhile, the believers of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church in Shepetivka continue to help the displaced people and soldiers. For example, not long ago the rector of St. Michael's Cathedral donated UAH 12,000 of personal savings to the Ukrainian Armed Forces, and parishioners purchased bulletproof vests and helmets for the army.

For almost a week now, a prayer stand has been going on in the church, with believers reading the Psalter around the clock and guiding the temple at night. Although services are held as scheduled, tensions are mounting in the town.

As reported, in Shepetivka, the local territorial defence forces led by the mayor attempted to seize St Michael's Cathedral, while the Kyiv Metropolis called the bans on UOC congregations "criminal decisions".

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