Court begins to hear a claim of UOC against the Ministry of Culture

On November 22, the Kiev District Administrative Court began the hearing of the lawsuit filed by the UOC against the Ministry of Culture regarding the non-registration of statutes of the eparchies and monasteries of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church. On
his Facebook page, Protopriest Alexander Bakhov, the head of the UOC’s Legal Department, said that the last set of documents was filed in May 2015.

“Unexpectedly, but predictably, today Mr. Yurash (director of the Department for Religious and Ethnic Affairs) and Papayani (head of the Monitoring and Registration Department of the Statutes of Religious Organizations) came to “save face”,” writes Protopriest Alexander Bakhov. “It did not strengthen the legal position, but a fuss was made. As for me, a lawyer from the Ministry of Culture without them coped well. Or maybe they are nervous. But why, if they acted within the law?”

The head of the UOC Legal Department shared his impressions of the court session: “After listening to Mr. Yurash, I got the impression that the Law “On Freedom of Conscience” is legally binding only for applicants (the UOC), and not for the Ministry of Culture. It looks as if it’s up to Mr. Yurash to register a statute or not, to send it for revision or to forward it to the expert council, to consider the statutes …for two years – they are doing so! And it turns out that the UOC itself is to blame and must prove the illegality of the actions of the Ministry of Culture.”

Father Alexander stressed that the duty to prove the validity of decisions or inaction is the responsibility of the Ministry of Culture (Article 71, paragraph 2 of the Code of Administrative Court Procedure).

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