UOC clergy and parishioners continue to experience intimidation – UN report

27 March 10:38
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Photo: ukraine.un.org Photo: ukraine.un.org

The OHCHR recorded six cases in five regions, where groups of people forcibly broke into UOC churches, justifying their actions with decisions from local authorities.

On 26 March 2024, the United Nations Ukraine website published the "Report on the Human Rights Situation in Ukraine for the period from 1 December 2023 to 29 February 2024" made by the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).

Chapter 7 of the Report devoted to freedom of religion and belief states that during the reporting period "clergymen and parishioners of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church continued to experience intimidation".

OHCHR recorded six cases across five regions "where groups of people forcefully broke into UOC churches, justifying their actions with decisions from local authorities to register new religious communities of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine (OCU) at the same address as existing UOC communities".

The report describes several such incidents.

It is noted that on 28 December 2023, a group of individuals attacked the Kazan Church in Ladyzhyn, Vinnytsia region.

"At least two individuals involved in this attack claiming to be active servicemen of Ukrainian armed forces. Police officers present at the site did not intervene. Subsequently, on 9 January 2024, a group of about 30 individuals wearing camouflage uniforms without insignia used two heavy construction vehicles to break the gates and fence of the temple and forced their way into the UOC church. They beat the clergyman and two male parishioners, all of whom suffered minor injuries. At least nine individuals were physically attacked during the two incidents. Only two victims submitted complaints to police, one of which was later withdrawn. Most victims said they did not submit complaints because they feared retaliation, such as threats from their neighbours or dismissal from their jobs,” says the Report.

OHCHR previously reported a similar case in Cherkasy on 20 November 2023.

"In that case, multiple victims and witnesses interviewed by OHCHR identified one of the attackers as a member of the Ukrainian armed forces. Ukrainian authorities have since opened criminal cases into the Cherkasy and the Ladyzhyn cases," the UN representatives noted.

As earlier reported, Patriarch Porfirije of the Serbian Orthodox Church called on the UN and the EU to protect religious freedom.

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