Interview with victims of the recent seizure of a Holy Protection Church and with Brian S. Brown, a president of the World Congress of Families, who visited the place of the incident.
March 14, 2019 – The Press Service of the Vicar of the Holy Dormition Kiev-Pechersk Lavra, Metropolitan Pavel (Lebed) of Vyshgorod and Chernobyl, interviewed the victims of the recent seizure of the Holy Protection of the Mother of God Church in the village of Kurozvany (Rivno region). Also, Brian S. Brown1 , who visited the village, gave his comments about what he witnessed there at the end of the video. The translation into English was provided by orthochristian.com.
According to the parishioners in the video, their beloved rector Archpriest Vladimir Koval was threatened. “We will bury Batiushka by evening,” said one of the parishioners, quoting one of the raiders.
“We are the religious community. We may be a little smaller, but we believe, and we have firm faith. They won’t listen to anything. It’s a shame that the power is all on their side. We are in tears. They wanted to take our priest’s house,” one of the women from the parish told the Lavra’s press service.
The parishioners themselves were also threatened during the seizure of the church. “They threatened us and shouted and called us names. It was a brutal mob,” said another parishioner, who added that she doesn’t understand why activists screaming about love for Ukraine are spending their time threatening women rather than fighting in the anti-terrorist operation zone.
During the collecting of signatures to steal the church, the activists, who are not parishioners according to Fr. Vladimir, intimidated people by asking them where they want their money to go—to Russia or to Ukraine, although the Ukrainian Church does not, in fact, send money to Moscow.
The parishioners have said they will protect their priest. “We will guard Batiushka. We won’t let Batiushka out of the village!” they said. Even if something were to happen to him, Fr. Vladimir is certain that God will provide for his flock: “The Mother of God will not leave us!”
“It’s wrong to act this way with people—we’re also the community of this village. We are citizens of Ukraine. My grandfather and great grandfather and I live here, and we pray. We won’t change our faith,” one of the parishioners affirmed.
The village was visited by Brian Brown, the President of the World Congress of Families and the co-founder of the National Organization for Marriage, who expressed exasperation at what is happening there:
All these people were parishioners of this church. They’ve been kicked out. And it does not seem that this process is being properly investigated. It’s a violation of their basic right. It’s amazing that so few people know about it. I think if they see this, people from all over the world will stand up for them. I hope that people will come to help because it is a violation of the basic human right to have freedom of religion and to pray in their church… It’s terrible that they put locks on the church door, and a group of young people stand at the entrance and try to prevent them from entering. See all these old women? They’ve been here forever. And the fact that they are prevented from entering the Church, I think it is wrong.
The activists broke into the church on March 1, breaking the fence around the church and cutting the locks on the door, under the pretext of taking inventory. The police watching the incident did nothing to stop it. Local officials were involved in the incident, carrying off various items. They then went immediately to the priest’s house and demanded that he move out. Since March 3, the parishioners have been gathering for worship in the priest’s house.
- The Press Service of the Vicar of the Holy Dormition Kiev-Pechersk Lavra, Metropolitan Pavel (Lebed) of Vyshgorod and Chernobyl – March 13, 2019, video “Seizure of the Holy Protection Church, v. of Kurozvany, Rivne region”;
- Orthochristian.com – March 15, 2019, “Schismatics Threaten Priest, Try To Kick Him Out Of His House”.
- March 13, 2019 – A report on the situation about the human rights in Ukraine was published by the UN shortly before the presidential elections in Ukraine.
- March 1, 2019 – The clergy of the Ukranian Orthodox Church (Moscow Patriarchate) has been called for a “private” conversation with the Securite Bureau of Ukraine to discuss the possibilities to have alternating worship services with representatives of the newly formed religious organization in the church that the activists of the latter organisation has been failing to seize since February 17, 2019.
- Feb. 18, 2019 – Representative of Ukrainian Orthodox Church appeals to international organization over facts of mass violations of rights of believers in Ukraine