Law Dept of UOC comments on beating of a 63-year-old believer in Zadubrivka

If the authorities are blind to violations of believers’ rights and religious communities of the UOC, it will lead to disaster, Archpriest Alexander Bakhov stressed.

The head of the Legal Department of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, Archpriest Alexander Bakhov, called on the authorities and law enforcement officers to a responsible investigation of the incident in Zadubrivka, Chernivtsi region, where on March 13, 2021, six young men from among the OCU supporters severely beat the 63-year-old believer of St. Michael parish of the UOC Vasily Khashchiyuk.

In a commentary published on the website of the Legal Department of the UOC, the clergyman called the incident a shameful act, which “vividly illustrates that the ‘OCU’ project has brought division on religious grounds into our society.”

He emphasized that “in fact, the unification did not take place, as many say about it,” churches are seized, people are forced to transfer to the OCU, and government officials are re-registering communities in this structure “on the basis of false decisions that are presented as decisions of the religious community.”

“The question arises, why exactly one needs to move to the OCU?” added Fr. Alexander. “After all, the law allows you to belong to any church and profess any faith. The very fact of the creation of the ‘OCU’ is not a reason for changing the subordination of the religious community, especially since the Ukrainian Orthodox Church did not take part in the creation of this organization.”

Seeing the problem precisely in the policy of interference of state agents, the head of the Legal Department noted that “nobody keeps anyone in the UOC, people and religious communities can go wherever they want, and during these two years everyone who wanted to go somewhere has already done it a long time ago. But the question arises, why the religious communities of the UOC are forced to get to the ‘OCU’? Actually, there are people in this village (Zadubrivka – Ed.) who do not want to belong to and move into this new formation.”

“I am sure that they will try to pass off this crime as a domestic conflict, because it’s not on the plus side for the authorities when conflicts arise on religious grounds. For a fair and thorough investigation of this shameful crime, responsibility lies with both the local authorities and the law enforcement officers who will deal with this case. <...> I wish Vasily Grigorievich a speedy recovery, strength and patience. And I would like to draw your attention to the fact that if the authorities continue to be blind to violations of the rights of believers and religious communities of the UOC, it will lead to a catastrophe,” summed up the head of the Legal Department of the UOC.

Earlier, the UOJ wrote that on the night of March 13 in the village of Zadubrivka, six supporters of the OCU severely beat the 63-year-old parishioner of the St. Michael’s church of the UOC Vasily Khashchiyuk. As the parish rector said, Vasily is one of the quietest and most harmless persons in the village, and the attack on him looks particularly cynical.

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