Metropolitan Pavel case: selective justice in action?
During the prayer standing at the Lavra, the authorities sent its abbot under arrest, charging him with inciting interfaith discord. Will UOC blasphemers face the same?
The abbot of the Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra Metropolitan Pavel (Lebed) has been charged under Articles 161 and 436-2 of the Criminal Code, under which he faces up to 8 years in prison, and has been placed under house arrest for 2 months. Meanwhile, others who have committed similar acts are not only not prosecuted but are considered almost heroes.
In this article, we will not touch upon the charge under Article 436-2: "Justification, recognition as lawful, denial of armed aggression of the Russian Federation against Ukraine, glorification of the participants", since the records of telephone conversations presented in this charge have not been recognized by the court as authentic yet and therefore cannot be used as evidence. We only note that Metropolitan Pavel said the following in response to these accusations: "I have condemned, condemn and will continue to condemn all attempts against our state and what Russia, Putin have done is in no way excusable. I told you and I have always stood, stand and will always stand for my Motherland.”
The UOC Synodal Information and Education Department reports on 01.04.2023: "Metropolitan Pavel is accused of violating equality of citizens on the basis of their race, nationality, regional origin, religious beliefs, disability and other characteristics (Article 161 of the Criminal Code). The reference is to statements regarding the "OCU" and the Patriarchate of Constantinople that he made in the video appeal "Asking for justice for our Church". This video message was published on the Youtube channel "Lavra. The Path of Salvation" on 29.03.2023.
Regarding the OCU and the Patriarchate of Constantinople, Vladyka Paul said the following:
"Now, brothers and sisters, look from the outside at this so-called church, which destroys spirituality, which destroys the sanctity of life, which takes the last things from people. They don't go by themselves... There is a proverb: ‘If I can’t have it, neither can you.’ Today, I think that tears will not fall on the ground, but tears will fall on Patriarch Bartholomew, who behaves outrageously in many countries of the world today. The man is eighty years old. Does he not think of dying? Does he not think to stand before God, having lost all his flock, and encroaching today on other people's sheep, not of his own backyard? Woe and shame on you, so-called patriarch. For all this is being done today with your woeful and wicked blessing."
Is there any evidence of an offence under Article 161 of the Criminal Code in these words? Let everyone draw their own conclusions. The definition of this article reads as follows: "Willful actions inciting national, racial or religious enmity and hatred, the humiliation of national honour and dignity, or the insult
of citizens' feelings in respect to their religious convictions, and also any direct or indirect restriction of rights, or granting direct or indirect privileges to citizens based on race, the colour of skin, political, religious and other convictions, sex, ethnic and social origin, property status, place of residence, linguistic or other characteristics.”
Let us not prejudge the court's decision in the case of Bishop Pavel. But here are the statements of other people, only not addressed to the OCU or the Phanar, but to the UOC which is declared unpatriotic and generally wrong, which have not received a proper legal evaluation either in courts or by law enforcement agencies.
Here is a statement by Evhen Karas: "The UOC of the Moscow Patriarchate is a gang unit that has sold out to the FSB.” The accusation is completely unsubstantiated and unequivocally incites inter-religious hatred.
A screenshot of tv-park.ua
Here is another very recent statement by the same Karas: "All demons are f*ckers in black sacks, zombies, paedophiles from the ROC FSB – without a smile on their faces. Remember. The devil has put a curse on all of them. Heaven wants you to drive out these demons." And what follows, by the way, is not even a call but an instruction for reprisal.
A screenshot of the Telegram channel "Evgen Karas ✙"
Here is a statement by an employee of the Office of the President M. Podoliak to “Channel 24” dated March 30, 2023, in which he calls the UOC an abscess, promises to “surgically close” it, says that in the first months of the war, it was possible to “simply physically clean up” the “pro-Russian”, under which he probably implies the UOC, and hints that even now it is not too late to do it.
Here is the statement of MP O. Goncharenko:
A screenshot of the nv.ua website
We will not bore our readers with dozens if not hundreds of screenshots of various Internet resources where offensive insults are posted against the UOC. But we cannot ignore the antics of the "Quarter 95" artists.
On December 10, 2023, they published a video with so much dirt, insults, hatred and calls for violence against the UOC that in any democratic legal country of Europe after such a performance they would not only be held legally responsible but would be expelled from the profession forever. Perhaps, this will be the case in Ukraine at some point.
"You f*cking donkeys, you f*cking goat-faces, you sons of bitches, you Putin's cunt, f*cking bastards. Drop f*cking dead... Say, to spit at a UOC MP priest – 20 hryvnias, to scratch the Holy Scripture with a nail on the off-roader – 50 hryvnias, to strike on the left cheek and automatically on the right – 100 hryvnias, to expel the Moscow Patriarchate from Ukraine – priceless," the showmen urged.
A few days later there were people who did exactly what the "Quarter 95" called for.
On December 25, 2022, a man with a knife attempted to murder a UOC priest in the Holy Transfiguration Church in Chernomorsk.
Parishioners restrained the attacker and he did not have time to strike. On January 2, 2023, a UOC priest of the Church of the Protection of the Holy Mary in Vinnytsia had his throat slit with a dangerous razor and ended up in an intensive care.
Of course, it is hardly possible to prove in court the causal connection between the calls of the artists of the “Quarter 95” showmen and the crimes but the logic of events is clear.
The Ukrainian Orthodox Church filed a police application demanding that the "Quarter 95" artists be prosecuted under the same Article 161 of the Criminal Code that was also used to accuse Metropolitan Pavel. It's been several months now and we haven't seen any results. As for Metropolitan Pavel's case, the reaction of the justice system is lightning-fast.
Perhaps, we are witnessing selective justice when the state punishes some people and praises others for the same deeds. It turns out that in Ukraine, there are people of the first type who go unpunished for words and deeds which are clearly covered by Article 161 about incitement of inter-religious hatred and there are people of the second type who are charged for criticizing their opponents.
We hope the judges will find the courage to act honestly and impartially, perhaps they will find the strength to fulfil the word of the Lord: "... you shall not show partiality in judgment; you shall hear the small as well as the great; you shall not be afraid in any man's presence, for the judgment is God's. The case that is too hard for you, bring to me, and I will hear it...." (Deuteronomy 1:17). But so far, Metropolitan Pavel has received two months of house arrest without the right to communicate with the faithful and with the obligation to wear an electronic bracelet, and the people who spewed insults against the UOC enjoy their freedom and continue to have it their own way.