The head of the Representation of the UOC to European International Organizations, Bishop Viktor of Baryshevka, addressed the OSCE meeting in Warsaw, the UOC Information and Educational Department reports.
In his report Bishop Victor noted that the situation of the UOC in 2018 had worsened due to continual violations of the rights of believers, ineffective investigations of criminal proceedings and the incitement of religious hostility towards the UOC which has not ceased for now.
The representative of the UOC furnished specific examples of ineffective protection of believers by law enforcement officers. Vladyka Victor mentioned some resonant cases of the beating of believers by law enforcement structures in the village of Katerinovka, Ternopol region, as well as the illegal arrest of the temple of the religious community in Ptichya village, Rovno region. In these and other cases, believers have not received adequate protection; they still cannot return the temples that belong to them under the law, while the perpetrators remain unpunished.
Vladyka Victor recalled that anti-constitutional bills No. 4128, 4511, 5309, aimed at restricting the rights of the UOC believers and actual destroying of the legal and canonical system of management of religious organizations, have not yet been withdrawn from the parliament’s agenda. At the same time, the Ministry of Culture refuses to register statutes of monasteries and eparchies of the UOC, depriving them of the opportunity to fully exist as a legal entity.
Human rights organizations also reported discrimination against the UOC. Representative of the “Eastern Human Rights Group”, chairman of NGO “Public Advocacy” Oleg Denisov stressed that “violations of the rights of the UOC believers in Ukraine have signs of systemic restrictions of human rights on canonical identity by countries that are trying, unlawfully and contrary to international law, to exert pressure on Orthodox confessions with the aim of making them <…> join non-canonical religious groups, close to government policies.”