Ukrainian Orthodox Church confirms 3 clerics arrested in Donbass

August 12, 2015 President of Mercy Without Borders fund, archpriest Zakharia Kerstyuk has confirmed information on detention in Donbass of clerics of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church reporting to Moscow Patriarchate. He posted the confirmation in Facebook.

“Ukrainian military used brute force and arrested the nun Varvara (secular name Tatiana Shirolapova), archimandrite Nikon (Alexander Dublyazhenko) and priest Ledonid Mironenko,” father Zakharia said. “The only thing mother Varvara managed to tell us by telephone was that the Ukrainian military had arrested them.” reports TASS.

Father Zakharia also said the clerics had come to the buffer zone on a humanitarian mission.

“Mother Varvara delivers humanitarian aid to parishes located along the frontline at the risk of her life and it was the distribution of aid that she was doing at the moment of arrest,” he said. “She had more than once received threats and warnings she should stop bringing aid to the frontline,” Zakharia said.

Darya Morozova, the ombudsperson for human rights of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic confirmed detention of the clerics earlier on Wednesday. She said the Ukrainian military had accused them of assistance to a terrorist organization. Morozova said however she had information only on the two priests. “As for the nun, I don’t have the data on it.” She admitted it would be rather difficult to attain the priests’ release. “This isn’t the first case since the beginning of the year the clerics of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church reporting to Moscow Patriarchate find themselves in detention,” Morozova said. “Hieromonk Feofan was detained earlier but we managed to release him from captivity under a one-for-sixteen formula.”

“A second arrest of clerics during the year cannot be called in any other way than an outrage on faith,” she said. “The pro-Kiev forces don’t care for religion at all. To say nothing of a crude encroachment on human rights.”

Morozova said all the data on the arrested clerics had been sent to representatives at the talks on settling the conflict in eastern Ukraine. “Now we’ll wait and see how this situation will develop.”

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