According to the explanatory note made by NGO Public Advocacy, precluding a religious rite is a criminal offense under article 180 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine. This is stated on the organization’s website.
The clarification states that according to the Constitution, every person has the right to participate unhindered in any worship or religious rite, a cross procession being a form of such a rite.
Any facts of blocking vehicles, pressuring carriers to refuse to provide transport services, threats of dismissal pertain to the violation of constitutional rights.
In addition, the document states that Article 155-8 of the Criminal Code provides for liability for counteracting legitimate business activities, i.e. transport services in this case.
Article 161 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine provides for liability for direct or indirect restriction of rights or granting privileges on the basis of religious beliefs.
Owing to this fact, human rights activists come to the conclusion that “actions aimed at blocking or forcing believers to refuse to participate in the cross procession, hampering the constitutional right to freedom of religion are criminal and should cause a backlash in society.”
The organization reports that in view of this, NGO Public Advocacy has sent inquiries to regional administrations of the regions where the media recorded facts of preventing the believers from participating in the procession, “demanding to confirm or refute such facts, as well as explaining the unacceptability of using administrative resource by the exercise of the constitutional rights of believers to freedom of religion.”
“We draw the attention of state agents to the fact that cases of threatening and blocking the procession have already occurred earlier, as reported, for example, in the press service of Odessa eparchy of the UOC. Such facts should not happen again,” urge human rights activists.
It is reported that the feedback of regional administrations upon inquiries will be published and included in the international monitoring of the observance of the believers’ rights in Ukraine.