UOC church seizure in Pyrohivtsi: Lying down priest battered by crowd

St. Paraskeva Pyatnitsa Church in Pyrohivtsi. Photo: UOJ

Details of the seizure of the St. Paraskeva Pyatnitsa Church (UOC) in the village of Pyrohivtsi, Khmelnytskyi region, have become known.

On July 24, 2022, OCU raiders led by the chairperson of the Khmelnytskyi District Council, Oleksandr Cherniyevych, accompanied by a OCU "priest", came to the St. Paraskeva Pyatnitsa Church in the village of Pyrohivtsi, Khmelnytskyi district, and, right during a service, tried to seize the shrine and transfer it to Dumenko's structure. The video of the event was posted on the Telegram channel "Dozor on ‘1 Kozak'”.

A group of tough young men led by the head of the Khmelnytskyi District Council, Oleksandr Cherniyevych, came to the temple when the Sunday service was going on there and started insulting the worshippers.

According to one of the parishioners, the rector, Archpriest Oleksandr Kravets, asked them to close the church doors to finish the service in peace. But the head of the district council Chernievych urged the attackers to smash them down and broke the handle. After the end of the prayer service, when the believers appeared on the doorstep, the authorities and OCU activists started dragging them away from the doors.

"I was attacked by our villagers Petro Matveyuk and Razdorozhnyi <...> he shoved me and threw me, and I hit my head against the brick wall of the bell tower. I blacked out," said Lubov, a parishioner of the church. Her disabled son tried to defend her, but the OCU supporters attacked him in a crowd. According to the parishioner, they "apprehended him and dragged him away behind the church grounds".

"But the scariest picture was when they threw our priest down and beat him lying there... Everybody was beating him! It was like a horror movie, I haven't even seen such a thing in movies," says the parishioner. She received a concussion bouncing against the wall.

Another parishioner, Taisia, was also injured in the mass scuffle.

"Petro Matveyuk hit me in the chest with his fist... Doctors say it's your luck that no bone is broken," Taisia said. She was also attacked by a teenager aged 16 who smashed her nose. 

"They insulted the father and the mother, an 80-year-old woman, and Maria, who is 85 or 86 years old, was not allowed to say a word. People without crosses, very angry. They insulted, beat and pushed. They threw the priest down the stairs, tore his vestment and broke his cross," Taisia describes what she saw.

"I saw a woman grabbed and thrown near the church on the stones that lined the flowerbed. They grabbed her and threw her from the threshold so that she rolled on the ground," added another parishioner. She asked the OCU "priest" to "stop the scuffle", but he paid her no attention, watching with passion.

"I was pushed and thrown by Chernieych Olexandr, the head of the district council, after which I fell on the tiles and suffered bodily injuries – bruises on my face, on the bridge of my nose, a cut on my arm, bruises on my legs," another parishioner complained, adding that many women were beaten. The UOC believer noted that she had called the police several times, but law enforcers did not arrive immediately, and when they did, they just watched without taking any action.

As reported, OCU raiders seized a UOC church and beat up a woman in Pyrohivtsi.

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