Under the pretext of the war with Russia, Ukrainian government officials have sharply curtailed religious freedoms and attacked the rights of members of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (UOC). The victims, who are accused without evidence of aiding Russia, are demanding their guaranteed rights be respected.

AN ORCHESTRATED ATTACK based on false allegations

Supporting Ukraine must not mean supporting oppression of religion.

The coordination between intelligence services, the presidential administration, and the courts to expropriate and literally deny the existence of Ukraine’s historical home of worship of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine represents a policy and practice that the West should condemn in unequivocal terms.

The Zelensky government’s literal adaptation of the OCU as a state church lies outside the bounds of Ukraine’s constitution, European law, and modern Western practice.

Arrests and raids of UOC members

The Ukrainian authorities responded by raiding churches and monasteries, and launching twenty-three criminal cases against UOC clergy. The country’s National Security Council has imposed sanctions on several members of the clergy in Crimea and the Donbas, as well as the head of the Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra, and the church’s biggest benefactor, the oligarch Vadim Novinsky. Hot on the heels of the sanctions, the government moved swiftly to take control of the Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra, the country’s holiest site and the seat of the UOC.

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Ukrainian authorities are violating religious freedom rights

The interrogation of priests of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church has begun in Rivne, against the background of the continuation of the process of holding a “unification council” to create a new church in Ukraine. On Monday, several priests of the Rivne Diocese and the deans of the Sarny Diocese of the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church received summons from the Ukrainian Security Service, the nation’s successor to the KGB and counterintelligence and anti-terrorism agency.

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Seizures of Ukrainian Orthodox Church property represent a violation of human rights

“Protecting freedom of religion of all Ukrainians is essential to the continued support for Ukraine in both Washington and key European capitals,” said Amsterdam. “Draft Law 8371 represents a significant step backwards, a violation of Ukraine’s international legal commitments and the nation’s own constitution.”

Amsterdam continued: “Contrary to the Ukrainian government’s propaganda, the UOC is an independent church – instead we are witnessing pure political persecution and opportunism, which has nothing to do with Ukraine’s national security.”

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