The Ukrainian authorities will ban the activities of religious organizations that are considered affiliated with Russia, President Volodymyr Zelensky has said.
“Today (Thursday) a meeting of the National Security and Defense Council (National Security and Defense Council) was held. The meeting at which we considered numerous facts of connections between individual religious circles in Ukraine and the aggressor state”, Zelensky said in a video message posted on his Telegram channel.
According to him, in Ukraine it is necessary to create such conditions in which any “persons dependent on the aggressor country will not be able to manipulate Ukrainians.”
“The National Security and Defense Council instructed the government to submit to the Verkhovna Rada a bill on the impossibility of activities in Ukraine of religious organizations affiliated with centers of influence in the Russian Federation,” – he said.
In addition, the state service for ethnopolitics and freedom of conscience was instructed to ensure the conduct of a “religious examination of the Statute on the management of the UOC for the presence of a church-canonical connection with the Moscow Patriarchate” and, if necessary, “to apply the measures provided for by law.”
Recently, in Ukraine, the pressure from the authorities on the UOC has increased significantly. Nationalists and supporters of the schismatic “Orthodox Church of Ukraine” (OCU) seize churches, attack the clergy and believers of the UOC. In addition, local authorities in different regions of Ukraine periodically make decisions to ban the activities of the UOC in their territories.
In the spring of 2022, a bill was submitted to the Verkhovna Rada to ban the activities of the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church, seize its real estate and other property, but the law was never adopted. Member of the Verkhovna Rada Irina Friz On November 23, she announced that a bill was submitted to parliament to ban the activities of the Russian Orthodox Church in Ukraine.
In October, the Security Service of Ukraine reported that since February it had opened 23 criminal proceedings against individual representatives of the UOC. On November 22, the Ukrainian edition Strana.ua reported that the SBU “came with searches” on the territory of the main monastery of the UOC – the Kiev-Pechersk Lavra. The SBU previously opened a criminal case after allegedly singing a song about “glorifying Russia” at a service in the Kiev-Pechersk Lavra. Metropolitan Lavra Vicegerent Paul (Swan) declared that a priest who allowed the parishioners to sing “a secular song that has nothing to do with worship” was forbidden to perform liturgies and prayers.
The Kiev-Pechersk Lavra was transferred by the state to the gratuitous possession of the canonical UOC. In 2022, the schismatic OCU announced the creation of a religious organization for which it wants to get one of the temples of the Lavra. The UOC believes that the OCU is trying to seize the Kiev-Pechersk Lavra by creating a monastery there.