Seizure of a church in Ukraine

December 27, 2015. Priests of the so-called “Kiev Patriarchate” and a group of radicals of the “Right Sector” took by force the church of Saint Nicholas in the village Zhytomyr Kolodyanka (Ukraine), as the official website of Moscow Patriarchate reports.

Archpriest Stefan Markiewicz, dean of Novograd Volyn district of Zhytomyr diocese of the Transfiguration, told about it to the Union of Orthodox Journalists.

According to the priest, the representatives of the “Right Sector” were waiting in several cars at the entrance of the village on Sunday morning on 27th December. Father Stefan says, “As soon as they saw our car they followed us to the church. Then, about 50 representatives of the Kiev Patriarchate went to the temple and took it. A few dozen of radicals from the Right Sector watched their actions”.

The believers of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church built the Church of St.Nicholas in the village Kolodenka 20 years ago. The religious community was registered in 1992. Supporters of the so-called “Kiev Patriarchate” started agitating the village when the construction of the new church was completed and the dissenters came from Novograd Volyn and neighbouring areas, as father Stephen says. In their speeches, they used standard arguments that sound almost every day on television. Because of those speeches they managed to have several supporters who applied for registration of their community.

The priest said that the action of the “Kiev Patriarchate” urged the Head of the Sector for religions and nationalities of Zhytomyr State Administration Alexander Pivovarsky to visit them on 25th December. He said to the conflicting parties that the legal resolution of the conflict can take a long time.

Now, the activists of “Kiev Patriarchate” set the locks on the gates of the church fence and of the gate of the temple, and put their own protection.

On 28th December in Novograd Volyn district, the local council attempted to discuss the situation that has developed around the new church. According to archpriest Stefan Markiewicz, the chairman of the local council Mr Rudnicki, responded to the representatives of the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church who suggested to solve the dispute according to the law: “Why do we need this law, let’s vote and that’s all.”

The representatives of the community of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church were pushed to depose the issue through a referendum but they did not accept it. Church dean of Novograd Volyn Preobrazhensky District says that “in the village there are about 300 households, but only 25 believers attend the church regularly, all the others, in their own words, come to the church once or twice a year.” “Today we were pushed to allow the dissenters to legitimize their illegal actions, said the dean. – And all this in the presence of representatives of the Security Service, the police, inside of a public institution. We refused strongly and we will apply to the court. We sent a statement to the Ministry of Interior of the violation of our rights under Article 161 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine.”

On 18th December, the dissenters and the radicals of the “Right Sector” had gathered at the temple with the requirement to transfer the church building to the Kiev Patriarchate. In order to avoid a large conflict, the representatives of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church agreed to close the church and to address the problem in a legal process. However, a week later, the “Kiev Patriarchate” violated the agreement.

Video documeent from the Union of Orthodox Journalists

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