Moscow: “US tacitly Endorsing Ukraine’s Crackdown on Christian church”

Moscow: “US tacitly Endorsing Ukraine’s Crackdown on Christian church”

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Organizations that are supposed to protect religious freedoms are turning a blind eye to Kiev’s criminality, a new report has found

Originally published by Russia Today

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International organizations have failed to properly react to Kiev’s persecution of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (UOC), while the US, the self-proclaimed global champion of religious freedoms, is hushing up the crimes and even tacitly approves of them, the Russian Foreign Ministry has claimed.

On Tuesday, the Russian diplomatic service released a report on the mistreatment of the UOC, which has historic ties with the Russian Orthodox Church, by the Ukrainian state.

The section detailing international reactions, or lack of them, blasted Washington, a key supporter of the Ukrainian government, for “hushing up information about Kiev’s crimes.”The US government purports to be a champion of religious freedoms and regularly produces reports on alleged violations in nations around the world.

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“Amid the persecutions of Orthodox believers in Ukraine, however, [US officials] never criticized the destructive church policy of Zelensky. By their inaction, they apparently signal to their underlings that they approve of their lawless actions,” the document concluded.

The 30-page report details how Kiev has been tightening the screws on the UOC through discriminatory legislation, targeted law enforcement action, clandestine support for forced conversions of parishes and condoning hate speech against the clergy and faithful, among other things.

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The Ukrainian government supports the rival Orthodox Church of Ukraine (OCU), a schismatic organization that came into existence in 2018 under former President Pyotr Poroshenko. He made the move a key part of his reelection campaign, but failed at the ballot box the next year.

His successor, Vladimir Zelensky, ramped up the pressure campaign amid the armed conflict with Russia. A signature episode mentioned in the report was the March decision to oust UOC clerics from the Kiev Pechersk Lavra, one of the most treasured Orthodox monasteries in Ukraine. Culture Minister Aleksandr Tkachenko, whose department is responsible for the site, said at the time that the monks could stay if they agreed to defect to the OCU.

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The UN has confirmed Kiev’s discriminatory policies on multiple occasions, the report noted. Nevertheless, Russian calls to the international body and leading human rights organizations to intervene were futile, it said.

The problem, “unfortunately is still not considered a priority by the UN and other relevant organizations,” according to the ministry. In response to requests from Moscow, they “usually give non-committal answers that say they are monitoring the situation,” but provide no “adequate reaction.”

Originally published by Russia Today 


Details of report on Christian church crackdown in Ukraine revealed

The Russian Foreign Ministry has released a scathing report on what it says has been a years-long campaign by Kiev to dismantle the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (OUC).

Its clerics and the church faithful are being persecuted in various ways, from discriminatory legislation in the parliament to direct violence, the document reports.

The crimes are being ignored by international human-rights organizations and tacitly endorsed by Washington, the ministry has also claimed.

Ukrainian schism

The UOC was historically part of the Russian Orthodox Church. After Ukraine obtained statehood in the 1990s, it became a de-facto self-governing organization with symbolic and spiritual ties to its progenitor.

There were some schisms in Ukrainian orthodoxy from the start, but the trend escalated after the 2014 armed coup in Kiev.

Then-President Pyotr Poroshenko oversaw the creation in 2018 of a new Orthodox Church of Ukraine (OCU), which included old schismatic clerics and new defectors from the UOC, a key part of his re-election campaign.

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The OCU was recognized in 2019 by the Constantinople Patriarchate, which caused a major split among Orthodox Churches of the world.

The Russian Foreign Ministry report identifies 2018 as the year when a “full-scale, system-wide pressure” campaign against the UOC started. Since 2022, it has escalated further and has been backed by the Ukrainian government at all levels, it said.

Discriminatory legislation

As of mid-June, nine anti-UOC bills had been initiated in the Ukrainian parliament, the report said. Their sponsors “have made no secret of their intention” to infringe on the rights of believers, to confiscate church property, to hijack its historic name and, ultimately, to ban it.

Some bills propose direct restrictions or a full ban of the Church. One declares that only OCU communities may call themselves Orthodox. Other pieces of legislation facilitate the pressure campaign, the report points out.

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Raids on churches

Since 2022, Ukrainian security services have conducted multiple raids on UOC churches and monasteries as well as on the homes of priests. Authorities have cited national security considerations for these acts.

The report accuses Ukrainian law enforcement of planting ‘evidence’ aimed at incriminating the clergy during some of their operations. The ministry is alleging 61 instances of criminal acts against clerics that were based on “fake political pretenses,” with seven verdicts passed by Ukrainian courts so far.

It is also suggesting that the Ukrainian state may have been involved in forced disappearances, torture and murders of UOC bishops and priests.

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Forced conversions and expropriation

Local Ukrainian authorities are pressuring UOC communities to switch their allegiance and harassing those who refuse, the report said, listing scores of examples.

Dozens of churches have been seized by force and turned over to the OCU through falsified ballots, in which political activists dominated the vote and the will of actual believers was ignored, it claims.

The Ukrainian government was directly involved in the ouster of the UOC from the Kiev Pechersk Lavra, one of the most treasured Orthodox Christian monasteries in Ukraine.

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Hate speech and violence

Ukrainian politicians, officials and mass media are inciting hatred towards the UOC, the Russian ministry said. This campaign resulted in arson attacks, other acts of vandalism and direct violence against clerics and believers.

The report cites multiple remarks by senior Ukrainian officials and leaders of the OCU, which Moscow considers to be hate-driven.

Originally published by Russia Today


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