Russian Foreign Ministry speaks of OSCE’s lack of action toward seizure of churches of the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church

December 29, 2015. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Russia is worried about the situation surrounding the Assumption church of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church in the village of Ptichya in the Rovno region and calls on the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) to assess appropriately the Kiev authorities’ attitude towards the seizure of churches belonging to the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate.

Below we provide the full text “Comment by the Information and Press Department on a recent attack by Ukrainian radical nationalists on the Dormition Cathedral near Rovno

Russia is seriously alarmed by the situation regarding the Dormition Cathedral of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (Moscow Patriarchate) in the village of Ptichye near Rovno. The church and its parishioners have been attacked by the followers of the non-canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Kiev Patriarchate and members of the Right Sector, who demand that the church be turned over to the sectarians.

We are convinced that these events in the Rovno region are the result of consistent attempts to cover up infringements on the freedom of religion and the rights of believers by the Ukrainian authorities. Despite serious tensions, the OSCE leadership and the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine (OSCE SMM) have not reacted appropriately.

The SMM obviously regarded as sufficient its “vague” account of events presented in the December 24 report for media and the general public, according to which they “did not observe significant incidents” and could not “confirm the occurrence of any serious clashes or injuries.” We’d like to note that the SMM observers relied on information provided by “an interlocutor from the local police,” which they did not bother verifying. We recommend that the SMM discuss this issue with the Primate of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (Moscow Patriarchate) to get an objective picture of the situation in that and other Orthodox churches in Ukraine.

In our opinion, the OSCE should characterise Kiev’s stance regarding the seizure of the churches of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (Moscow Patriarchate) as a violation of Kiev’s international commitments in the sphere of human rights.

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