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During the seizure of Crimea, on March 20, 2014, in Simferopol, Archbishop Klyment held negotiations with the so-called “adviser of the Chairman of the ARC Council of Ministers on Defense and Security” Igor Strelkov (FSB Colonel Girkin) regarding the release from captivity of parishioners A. Shchekun and A. Kovalskyi. During them, a document signed by Strelkov was also received, which stated that “any actions aimed at the illegal seizure of property of the UOC KP and its individual representatives on the territory of the republic, which were not approved by the office of the Chairman of the Radmin of the Republic of Kazakhstan, will be considered as illegal”. In 2014, this document somewhat slowed down the attack by the Russian occupation administration on the property rights of the Crimean Diocese of the UOC-KP, although, of course, it did not stop it.
If in 2014 the occupying power initially seized at least two churches of the UOC KP in Crimea and Sevastopol with the help of Russian troops and paramilitary formations, then later it turned to the illegal use of administrative and quasi-judicial mechanisms (illegitimate judicial structures of Crimea). Due to the lack of registration with the occupation authorities, the electricity supply was cut off to the church of the village of Ostrovskoe in the Pervomaysky district, citing the same reason, they tried to prohibit the UOC KP community from holding religious services in Yevpatoria. Some businessmen and enterprises were forced to refuse, apparently under the pressure of the occupiers, financial support for communities of believers or providing them with premises for religious services on the basis of rent. In particular, due to pressure on business entities that provided premises for rent for religious needs, and parishioners of the UOC KP/OCU in general, parishes in Kerch, Krasnoperekopsk and Saky were closed. This became one of the significant factors in reducing the number of UOC-KP structures in occupied Crimea.
In April 2014, the illegitimate “State Council of the Republic of Crimea” by its decision confirmed the right of the Crimean Diocese of the UOC-KP to use the premises in Simferopol, where the cathedral, diocesan administration and other church structures are located, until 2050. The open “quasi-legal” pressure of Russia through the occupation administration and the court began in 2015, when the “Ministry of Property and Land Relations of the Republic of Crimea” changed the terms of lease of premises and buildings that were given to the UOC KP for use until 2050, significantly increasing the rent for the use of real estate in the city of Simferopol on the street Sevastopolska 17-A, where the Crimean Diocesan Administration, the Crimean Orthodox Spiritual Center, as well as the Cathedral of the Equal-to-the-Apostles Volodymyr and Olga, another church, were located, and started the legal process.
Representatives of the Crimean Diocese of the UOC KP were forced to turn to the “Arbitration Court of Crimea” (an occupying Russian illegitimate structure from the point of view of international law and Ukrainian legislation) in order to invalidate the decision of the Crimean “ministry” regarding part of the premises of 112.6 square meters, which In 2004, it was used by the UOC KP. However, the “Ministry of Property and Land Relations of the Crimea” filed a counterclaim. In January 2016, it became known that the “Arbitration Court” dismissed all the claims of representatives of the UOC KP, but the counter-claim of the “Crimean Ministry” was satisfied by the court. As a result, the “judge” ordered Sokolov not only to vacate the premises with an area of 112.6 square meters on the first floor of the building at the address of the street. Sevastopolska 17, the city of Simferopol, and also financially “punish” the church. In November 2016, representatives of the “Crimea Property Fund” tried to seal the first floor of the Cathedral of Saints Equal-to-the-Apostles Volodymyr and Olga of the UOC KP.
On August 31, 2017, the so-called “bailiffs” suddenly blocked access to part of the premises of the Office of the Crimean Diocese, used force against Archbishop Kliment of Simferopol and Crimea, who was physically injured, injured his hand, appropriated church property – crosses, icons, church utensils, porcelain and bohemian crystal tableware that was donated to the church, rugs, etc.
“The first floor is blocked, there is a security guard in black camouflage – special forces, a representative of the “property fund” is walking around, the door from the side of the chapel of the Cathedral of Christ the Savior is broken, the door from the street side has already been broken, – said Archbishop Kliment, who was waiting for the arrival of medics for a long time.
The occupier decided to appropriate the main church of the community – the Cathedral of the Equal-to-the-Apostles Prince Volodymyr and Princess Olga in Simferopol.
The UOC KP expressed indignation and protest in connection with the actions of Russian security forces in Simferopol.
“Our Church assesses the actions of the Russian security forces as lawlessness, a violation of the right to freedom of conscience, guaranteed by international agreements, which are also binding for Russia. The Patriarchate considers these events to be a continuation of the occupiers’ pressure on the Ukrainian religious and national minority in Crimea, intimidation and an attempt to completely eliminate the Kyiv Patriarchate on the peninsula. We also consider this a revenge of the occupiers’ special services for the position of Archbishop Kliment personally and for his speeches in defense of political prisoners of the Kremlin regime, including Crimean Tatar and Ukrainian activists,” says the UOC KP’s response.
The Kyiv Patriarchate appealed to the state authorities of Ukraine, the international community, in particular the European Union and its member states, the USA, Canada and other democratic countries, international organizations, including the UN and the OSCE, churches and religious organizations with a request to “condemn the occupation administration’s attack on the Ukrainian temple in Simferopol and demand from Russia to stop the persecution of the UOC-KP in Crimea.”
In turn, the Chairman of the Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar People, People’s Deputy of Ukraine Refat Chubarov called the attack by Russian security forces on the UOC-KP temple another strengthening of the Russian policy of ethnic cleansing on the peninsula.
“The barbaric attitude of the Russian occupation authorities towards the priests and parishioners of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Kyiv Patriarchate in the temporarily occupied Crimea, as well as the constant repression and persecution against the Muslims of Crimea, is evidence of Russia’s strengthening of the policy of purposeful displacement of Crimean Tatars and ethnic Ukrainians outside the borders of Crimea and their replacement by ethnic Russians imported from mainland Russia,” he said.
Two years later, in 2019, the UOC KP in Simferopol received a letter from the “Ministry of Property and Land Relations of the Republic of Crimea” about the early termination of the lease agreement for the premises where the Cathedral of the Holy Equal-to-the-Apostles Princes Volodymyr and Olga is located. The reason for the eviction was the lack of re-registration of the religious community in accordance with the requirements of the legislation of the Russian Federation. In the letter, the occupiers demanded from the archbishop of the Simferopol and Crimean Ukrainian Orthodox Church (OCU) Klyment within 20 days to sign the consent to the early termination of the lease agreement, and to vacate the building within the next 10 days. “Today we really reached a state where the church in Crimea can be liquidated. If the center is liquidated, then, accordingly, these 8 parishes that remained in the countryside will also cease their activities,” Archbishop Kliment said at the time.
The reason for this situation was the diocese’s refusal to register on the annexed peninsula under Russian law. As the bishop explained, despite the appeal to the Ukrainian authorities, the faithful did not receive a clear algorithm on how to do this, so as not to be prosecuted by the Ukrainian legislation for collaborationism. It will also not be possible to transport icons and other valuables from the cathedral to the mainland of Ukraine after the closure of the cathedral, because the legislation prohibits the movement of cultural values across the border, the archbishop noted.
In 2019, the “Ministry of Property and Land Relations of the Republic of Crimea” also filed lawsuits against the Office of the Crimean Diocese of the UOC KP (now the Orthodox Church of Ukraine) regarding the collection of funds, early termination of the lease agreement, and the incitement to return real estate. In June 2019, the occupation “court” in Crimea passed a decision requiring the OCU to finally vacate the premises of the Cathedral in Simferopol. At the same time, in order to increase the pressure on the Crimean believers of the OCU, the occupying “Ministry of Property and Land Relations of the Republic of Crimea” without the knowledge of the Crimean Diocese began “repair works” in it, during which the builders dismantled the roof, which led to the flooding of the cathedral premises and damage to property, around the building they installed fence, doors and windows were pulled out. On December 24, 2019, the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation stopped the execution of court decisions regarding the return of immovable property and the apparent eviction of the Ukrainian religious community from the church in the city of Simferopol on Sevastopolska Street, 17-A, and requested the case materials from the court of first instance.
On August 4, 2020, the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation refused to review the decision to evict the OCU community from the cathedral in Simferopol. This testifies to the consistent course of the occupation authorities to forcibly deprive the OCU of the opportunity to use the premises. This court decision condemned the Representation of the President of Ukraine in Crimea. “The representative office condemns the repeated violations of the occupying power of Russia against the Crimean diocese of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine and its believers. The court’s decision to evict the diocese from the Cathedral of Saints Equal-to-the-Apostles Volodymyr and Olga is an embodiment of the occupying state’s policy of ousting the Ukrainian Church from the temporarily occupied Crimean peninsula. Russia wants the Ukrainian Church, an important center of unity of Ukrainians, not to exist in Crimea. The representative office will take all possible measures and actions to protect the Ukrainian Church,” said Anton Korynevich, the then permanent representative of the President of Ukraine in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea.
Ukrainian lawyer Serhiy Zayets called the decision of the Russian court “a complete liquidation of the Ukrainian Orthodox community in Crimea. Formally, this is not genocide, but it borders on it,” the lawyer said.
After this shameful decision of the Supreme Court of Russia, on August 5, 2020, the Kyiv Metropolitanate of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (OCU) appealed to the Ukrainian state, international organizations and democratic countries with a call to protect the OCU Cathedral in Simferopol, the diocese and the religious community from destruction, and to constantly raise the issue of protection rights of the Ukrainian Orthodox community in Crimea during contacts with the Russian Federation. The statement of the Press Service of the Kyiv Metropolis of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (OCU) also spoke about support for the implementation, extension and expansion of sanctions against the Russian Federation as an occupying power and personally against accomplices of religious persecution – officials of the occupation administration, judges, police officers, bailiffs and others.
The eviction of the OCU community from the Cathedral of the Holy Equal-to-the-Apostles Princes Volodymyr and Olga in Simferopol was also condemned by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine, which in its comment on this matter stated that the persecution of the Ukrainian Orthodox community in Crimea is aimed at erasing Ukrainian identity in the temporarily occupied territories and is part of the policy oppression of all religious communities in Crimea, not controlled by Moscow.
The Ministry of Culture and Information Policy of Ukraine also categorically condemned the actions of the occupying state of the Russian Federation aimed at ousting the Ukrainian Church from the temporarily occupied Crimea. In his statement, it is noted that such a decision actually means the complete liquidation of the local Ukrainian Orthodox community, bordering on genocide.
On February 17, 2022, the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine adopted the Resolution “On some issues of protection of the right to freedom of outlook and religion of the believers of the Crimean Diocese of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (Orthodox Church of Ukraine) and the preservation of the premises of the Cathedral of the Holy Equal-to-the-Apostles Prince Volodymyr and Princess Olga”, which contains the following points: 1. Temporarily, for the period of validity of the Law of Ukraine “On Ensuring the Rights and Freedoms of Citizens and the Legal Regime in the Temporarily Occupied Territory of Ukraine”, transfer part of the property complex with a total area of 1,475.7 square meters from the property of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea to the state property. meter, marked in the home ownership plan with the letter “a”, of the building located at the address: str. Sevastopolska, 17, Simferopol, 95015, namely the Cathedral of the Equal-to-the-Apostles Prince Volodymyr and Princess Olga. 2. The Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine to carry out measures to transfer the Cathedral of Saints Equal-to-the-Apostles Prince Volodymyr and Princess Olga into state ownership.
This long-awaited and lobbied by the faithful of the OCU and activists of the community of Crimean Ukrainians, the decision of the Parliament of Ukraine created the legal basis for the government of the state to make a decision on the transfer of the cathedral premises for indefinite/long-term use or ownership of the church, which in turn will increase its capabilities in protecting property rights in the occupied territories in international courts.
On May 15, 2020, the illegitimate “Evpatoria City Court” issued a decision obliging the OCU to demolish the temple in the city of Yevpatoria. The document was handed over to Metropolitan Kliment only on July 22, in order to prevent an appeal against this decision. “To oblige the defendants, in a joint order, the Neopalima Kupina community and the Office of the Crimean Diocese of the OCU to carry out work on the dismantling of the erected structure, namely: the strip foundation and the building erected on it from wooden beams (logs) more than 10 meters high”, – it says in the “document”.
Archbishop Kliment noted that such decisions went beyond common sense. “These are all signs not only of the destruction of the Ukrainian Church in Crimea, but also the fact that such actions are aimed at the political persecution not only of us – church officials, but also at the political persecution of the believers of the Ukrainian Church in Crimea.” He also believes that in this case the situation in Crimea should take place at international negotiations. “If the authorities of the Russian Federation avoid discussion, then there should be an appropriate reaction and actions of the international community. I am asking the whole world for protection, not for myself, but for the Ukrainian church and the believers of our church in Crimea,” he emphasized.
It should be noted that the construction of the Church of the Exaltation of the Cross in the city of Yevpatoria began before 2014, and the OCU has the relevant documents for it. Repeated attempts to demolish the church were made after 2014. Bishop Klyment reported in the media that the initiator of the church demolition was M. Purim, the deputy head of the Crimean Republican Cultural and Educational Society of the Crimeans “Krymcakhlar”, known for his many years of cooperation with pro-Russian radical organizations. In 2014, when Father Yaroslav, the abbot of the church in Yevpatoria, was on the Maidan, the aunts burned the dome of the church. Later, it was restored.
In July 2012, the Simferopol City Council allocated 0.49 hectares of land to the Crimean Diocesan Administration for the construction of the Cathedral of Christ the Savior. On the morning of May 5, 2013, the Archbishop of Simferopol and Crimean UOC KP Vladyka Kliment led a procession and consecrated the cross in the center of the allocated plot of land. He informed that the project of the cathedral in the name of Christ the Savior is already ready. Christians from Lviv presented the Crimean believers with a wooden church, a monument of Western Ukrainian wooden architecture, which was to be brought to Simferopol and installed there. However, after the occupation of Crimea, this plot was actually selected, because at first, instead of the cathedral, the occupiers wanted to build houses for FSB employees there, and then they almost gave it to another denomination.
Therefore, in the course of 2014, the Intercession Church in the village of Perevalne and the church of Apostles Peter and Paul and Saint Nicholas in the city of Sevastopol. In addition, the occupation authorities initiated legal proceedings, in which courts under the control of the occupiers decided to seize the cathedral building in Simferopol and demolish the parish church in Yevpatoria.
In 2016, the so-called “Yarova’s Law”, which, among other things, introduced a new norm into the RF Code of Administrative Offenses, which provides for responsibility for “illegal missionary activity”. The arbitrary interpretation of this norm was used in August 2021 for the administrative prosecution of OCU Archimandrite Damian for performing the Divine Liturgy.
The widespread use of Russian judicial institutions by the occupation administration in attempts to deprive the UOC KP and OCU of its religious and other premises in Crimea, other violations of the rights of believers, requires a legal assessment and response from the public, Ukrainian authorities, foreign states and international organizations. More than 50 OCU believers from Crimea personally appealed to the UN Human Rights Committee regarding the violation of their right to freedom of conscience and religion, as well as other oppressions by the Russian authorities. As a result, this Committee proposed in 2019 to Russia not to deprive the OCU of the premises of the cathedral in Simferopol and the Crimean diocesan administration.
In 2020, representatives of the Ukrainian National Council of Crimea (the self-organization institute of Crimean Ukrainians, which was established in 1918 and resumed its activities in 2020), including many parishioners of the OCU, created a list of employees of Russian courts and law enforcement agencies involved in judicial ( quasi-judicial) persecution of the OCU in Crimea, transferred it to the government of Ukraine for the application of sanctions against them. In 2021, the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine introduced personal special economic and restrictive measures against 18 individuals involved in issuing unjust court decisions on the alienation of property of the Crimean Diocese of the OCU.
To the question of the reaction of the civilized world to the oppression of the OCU in the occupied Crimea
The large-scale, systematic and brutal violation by the Russian occupiers in the temporarily occupied Crimea of one of the fundamental human rights – the right to freedom of conscience and religion – of course, could not fail to draw the attention of the civilized world to this problem. Here are just some examples of the response of important international organizations and states to the discrimination of Crimean believers of the OCU.
In January 2020, the OCU Metropolitan Epiphany and the OCU Archbishop of the Crimean Diocese Klyment met with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, during which it was reported about the violation of religious freedom and the right to religion in Crimea, and the oppression of the OCU. “I thanked the Secretary of State for the great help that the United States provides to Ukrainians in Crimea. The help lies in the fact that the US government supports us at all events that take place in the world, the problem of the existence of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (UOC) in Crimea is always voiced. The State Secretary keeps this problem under his personal control,” Archbishop Kliment said.
In August 2019, during the meeting of the UN Security Council under the Arria formula on the protection of religious minorities in armed conflicts, the temporary representative of Ukraine to the UN Yuriy Vitrenko also drew attention to the fact that the aggression in Crimea “is systematically accompanied by discrimination, persecution and torture, which grossly violate rights of Ukrainian citizens in Crimea on religious grounds”.
In February 2020, during a speech in New York at the 74th session of the UN General Assembly, the then Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine V. Prystaiko said that Russia’s annexation of Crimea led to another form of discrimination. “I mean the plight of Muslims, Crimean Tatars, and the Orthodox Church of Ukraine. We believe that the issue of religious freedoms should be additionally considered by the Assembly and we welcome the relevant initiatives of the partners,” the minister said.
In December 2016–2020, the UN approved 5 resolutions on the human rights situation in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol. They focus mainly on political prisoners, persecution of Ukrainian and Crimean Tatar activists in Crimea, torture and illegal imprisonment, persecution of religious minorities, restrictions on freedom of conscience and freedom of speech. The UN condemns these and other facts of human rights violations by Russia on the occupied Ukrainian peninsula and separately notes that Russia has not fulfilled the requirements of previous resolutions, and the situation has only worsened since then.
In addition to the UN, the Council of Europe, the OSCE and other international organizations raised the issue of discrimination against the UOC-KP/OCU in Crimea, violation of the rights of its parishioners and clergy in their official documents. One of the potentially effective mechanisms for protecting their rights is the decision of international courts. As far as is known, relevant appeals to them from believers and church structures, as well as the Ukrainian state, were sent several years ago. We hope that the adopted court decisions will help to preserve the Crimean Eparchy of the OCU, its communities and property, and in time will make it possible to compensate for the damage caused by the occupiers and bring to justice the organizers of the persecution of this religious organization, violation of the rights of its faithful.
On February 10, 2022, the Round Table “Religious persecution in the occupied territories of Donbas and Crimea” was held at the Ukrainian House in Washington. It was attended by representatives of the largest US human rights organizations in the field of religion and freedom of speech, such as International Religious Freedom, ADF international, Baptist World Alliance.
Samuel Brownback, the US ambassador for international religious freedom (2018-2021), who is very familiar with the situation in Ukraine and has visited Kyiv several times, said: “Religious freedom is a fundamental right, not a subject of discussion or blackmail. Unfortunately, in times of aggression, Russia shows its true, non-democratic face, and this must be stopped. That is why we are here, holding this working meeting.”
On December 16, 2019, two American congressmen, Joe Wilson and Emmanuel Cleaver, on December 16, 2019, introduced a draft law to support freedom of religion in Ukraine, including in the occupied Crimea and part of Donbas.
In March 2020, the Foreign Affairs Committee of the US House of Representatives supported the bill “On Support of Religious Freedom in Ukraine”, the purpose of which is to oppose Russia’s violation of religious freedoms in the occupied territories of Ukraine in the Donbass and Crimea. It clearly states that Russia is responsible for violations of religious freedoms in the territories it controls, not just within its borders.
In April 2021, Senators Roger Wicker and Jeanne Shahin reintroduced the bipartisan Ukraine Religious Freedom Support Act (S.1310). It is a companion bill to HR 496, introduced by Rep. Joe Wilson and Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, which unanimously passed the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
“The Kremlin’s current crackdown in Ukraine reflects an ugly chapter from the Soviet era, when believers were persecuted for their religious beliefs,” said Senator Wicker. “Vladimir Putin and his proxies must face real consequences for their brutal attempts to limit the religious freedom of Ukrainians suffering under this ruthless Russian occupation.”
The Ukraine Religious Freedom Support Act would allow and require the President of the United States to consider particularly serious violations of religious freedom in the Ukrainian territory of Crimea and Donbas, not just violations within Russia’s internationally recognized borders, when determining whether to include Russia on the list of countries that cause of particular concern (CPC). The bill confirms that “the policy of the United States will never recognize the illegal, attempted annexation of Crimea by the Russian government or the secession of any part of Ukrainian territory by the use of military force.”
According to this bill, the US government must take certain steps against a country that violates religious freedom. Such as public condemnation, cancellation of cultural and scientific exchanges, state and other visits, cancellation or suspension of aid from the American government, private and international institutions, introduction of sanctions.
Russia’s aggressive war against Ukraine and, in particular, the occupation of Crimea had an extremely negative impact on the position of the Crimean Diocese of the UOC KP/OCU. They were among the most affected in 2014–2022 by the policy of the occupying state of religious organizations on the Crimean Peninsula. This is connected, on the one hand, with the sharp deterioration of the situation with respect for human rights and freedoms, as well as the rights of non-Russian ethnic communities, primarily the community of ethnic Ukrainians, due to the policy of neo-totalitarian Russia, with the ousting of the leaders and activists of this community by the occupiers from Crimea, a large part of who were believers of the UOC KP/OCU, as well as Ukrainian organizations, structures, authorities, some of which provided or could provide support to this religious organization in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol. On the other hand, the occupying state consistently pursues a policy of discriminating against the structures of the UOC KP/OCU in the temporarily occupied territory, which is aimed at gradually but steadily ousting them from Crimea.
This position of Russia is connected, in our opinion, primarily with two reasons. First, the Crimean Eparchy of the OCU plays an important role in preserving and protecting the identity of Ukrainians in the temporarily occupied region. Even under the conditions of occupation, it openly positions itself as part of the local Church of the Ukrainian people, develops the Ukrainian-language liturgical tradition and prays at services “for the God-protected state of our Ukraine, its government, people and army”, which directly contradicts the ideology of the “Russian world” and the Russian great power and the chauvinistic concept of “Russians and Ukrainians are one people”, which are planted by the Putin regime. In addition, the discrimination of believers and clergy of the OCU is a component of the general colonization policy of Russia regarding the displacement of Ukrainian citizens from the territory of Crimea and its settlement by citizens of the Russian Federation, as well as the course of assimilation of ethnic Ukrainians. Secondly, the Crimean Eparchy of the OCU is not controlled in the manner desired by the authoritarian Russian authorities, since it has a religious and administrative center outside the borders of neo-imperial Russia, in Ukraine, which is integrated into the Euro-Atlantic community of civilized countries.
Among the methods of discrimination of the UOC KP and OCU in Crimea used by the occupying state, an important role is played by information and propaganda, judicial (or rather quasi-judicial, since illegitimate Russian courts are used in Crimea), administrative and forceful pressure on the priests and laity of this religious denomination, illegal expropriation of its property, primarily temples. The systematic policy of discrimination is reinforced by a powerful campaign in the Russian and pro-Russian mass media, which creates a persistent negative image of the Crimean Diocese of the OCU, its clergy and parishioners among the population. The materials published within the framework of this campaign justify the actions of the occupation authorities regarding the persecution of the church and try to discredit the OCU as a religious organization.
As a result of the targeted policy of the aggressor state – Russia, since the occupation, the number of structures of this denomination in Crimea has sharply decreased from 2014 to 2021, from 46 religious communities, 2 brotherhoods and 1 monastery to 7 communities (4 were constantly functioning in Simferopol, Simferopol district, Yevpatoria, Bilogorsk; 3 on a non-permanent basis in the Pervomaisky and Rozdollensky districts), and priests – from 23 to 4 people (another cleric occasionally visits the occupied Crimea to conduct services). Thus, under the pressure of the occupation authorities, the number of parishes decreased by more than 6 times, and the number of clergy decreased by almost 6 times. In fact, today the diocese is on the verge of survival.
Russia’s large-scale offensive against Ukraine in February 2022 worsened the already critical situation of the OCU in the temporarily occupied Crimea. This is connected both with the further strengthening of military propaganda and the incitement of anti-Ukrainian hysteria, the general deterioration of the moral and political climate, and the difficulties of accessing the territory of the peninsula, which has been transformed by the occupying state into one of the most important bases for carrying out aggression against Ukraine. Due to the hostilities, a priest who used to regularly visit his Crimean congregation, and most importantly Metropolitan Kliment of Simferopol and Crimea, who as of February 24, 2022, was on church business in Kyiv, cannot get to Crimea.
An analysis of the position of the Crimean Diocese of the UOC-KP/OCU in the temporarily occupied Crimea shows a persistent negative trend towards the deterioration of its position. It is obvious that the policy of the occupying state is aimed not only at the violation of the rights of the believers of this religious organization, but at the gradual but steady creation of conditions for the termination of its activities. If in the first years after the occupation of the Republic of Crimea and Sevastopol, the Russian authorities probably restrained the pressure on this diocese somewhat in order not to worsen the situation of the structure of the Russian Orthodox Church in Ukraine – the UOC MP, then after the creation of the autocephalous Ukrainian Orthodox Church in 2019 and the announcement of “independence and independence” of the UOC MP in May 2022, this restraining factor disappears or is significantly reduced. Therefore, the forecast for the future of the OCU in Crimea under the conditions of continued Russian occupation is consistently negative.
Only the liberation of Crimea and the restoration of the territorial integrity of Ukraine will allow to fully protect the rights of the Crimean faithful of the OCU. Until that moment, the Ukrainian state and civil society, international organizations and civilized countries need to use methods that at least partially weaken the discrimination against this religious organization – political statements regarding its condition, the introduction of sanctions against Russia and persons who organize or participate in the persecution of the OCU in Crimea, violations of the rights of its believers and clergy, to widely inform the world community about these problems, to defend the rights of Crimean faithful of the OCU in the courts.
Andriy IVANETS, candidate of historical sciences
head of the department of historical studies of the
Research Institute of Ukrainian Studies of the Ministry of Education and Culture of Ukraine,
candidate of historical sciences
The beginning of the material at the link: https://culture.voicecrimea.com.ua/uk/dyskryminatsiia-pravoslavnoi-tserkvy-ukrainy-v-okupovanomu-krymu-udar-rosii-po-pravam-viruiuchykh-ta-krymskykh-ukraintsiv/