Metropolitan Hilarion, an Ukrainian citizen, was denied the right of freedom of movement inside Ukraine, while he was attempting to enter Ukraine through an official entry-exit checkpoint on the demarcation line around eastern territories of Ukraine.
December 9, 2018. The press service of the Donetsk Diocese of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church informs that the representatives of the Ukrainian authorities did not allow the ruling bishop of Donetsk and Mariupol diocese of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (Moscow Patriarchate), His Eminence, Metropolitan of Donetsk and Mariupol, to cross the demarcation line in the official entry-exit checkpoint “Novotroitskoye”.
Metropolitan Hilarion went from Donetsk to the Holy Assumption Nikolo-Vasilyevsky Monastery in the village of Nikolskoye, Volnovakhsky District of Donetsk Region to perform the traditional (for the past 20 years) joint prayer with the UOC – MP (Ukrainian Orthodox Church – Moscow Patriarchate) hierarchs, residents of the monastery and numerous pilgrims on the feast of the Icon of the Mother of God “Znamenie”, December 10. A visit to the local almshouse, a meeting with the inhabitants of the monastery and numerous Orthodox believers from different regions of Ukraine, traditionally arriving on December 10 to participate in the above celebrations, were provocatively disrupted.
There was no objective justification given for denying the right of Metropolitan Hilarion to cross the line of demarcation. According to the employee of the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) at the entry-exit checkpoint “Novotroitskoe”, the reason for the occurrence of such situation was : “… special order from Kiev …”.
Additional reason for denying the entry was not definite: the electronic pass of Metropolitan Hilarion, according to the same officer of the SBU, was canceled on December 7, but on December 8, Metropolitan Hilarion returned from the Kiev-Pechersk Lavra after the meeting of the Holy Synod of the UOC – MP in Donetsk, and there were no problems passing the line of demarcation. An even greater misunderstanding was the fact that a citizen of Ukraine was denied an inalienable right to enter the Motherland. Such actions indicate the reluctance of certain forces to establish peace, because the Ukrainian Orthodox Church – MP is the only link between authorities on both sides of the line of demarcation, in the face of ongoing conflict.
Also, the above actions of the Security Service of Ukraine can be considered provocative, especially in the context of the recent appeal of the President of Ukraine P.A. Poroshenko to the Primate of the UOC – MP of His Beatitude Metropolitan Onufry with a request for assistance in the return of the Ukrainian sailors.
The question arises – what is it: a provocation directed against the peacekeeping initiatives of the President of Ukraine or the conscious hypocrisy of the country’s top leadership?
This situation is a blatant testimony that the Ukrainian authorities continue to follow the line they have chosen to grossly interfere in the affairs of the Church and openly persecute and discriminate the hierarchs and priests of the UOC- MP on religious grounds, clearly violating the constitutional rights of Ukrainian citizens (in the case of Metropolitan Hilarion, the right to freedom of movement, indicated in article 33 of the Ukrainian Constitution) and a number of articles of the “Convention on the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms”, ratified by Ukraine as far back as 1997.
To recall, this is not the first case in the current year of pressure and restrictions on the rights and freedoms of archpastors and clergymen of the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church on the part of representatives of various levels of government.
In conclusion, the Donetsk Diocese of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (Moscow Patriarchate) expressed its intention to continue to be united territorially, in spite of any obstacles, including the so-called “line of demarcation” and obstacles artificially arranged by the authorities in the form of restriction of the rights and freedoms of the Ruling bishop and clergymen, as well as to unify the priesthood and all believers in a common prayer to the All-merciful Creator and the glorified holy saints of God who shone in the land of Donbass.
In addition the Diocese expressed its hope that this gross violation of rights and freedoms will not remain without public attention and in the future the Church will be able to carry out its ministry, guaranteed by the Constitution and legislation of Ukraine.