Каплиця Покрову Пресвятої Богородиці в м. Євпаторії, 2015 рік

The fate of the Crimean Exarchate of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church after the Russian occupation of the Crimean peninsula


After the Russian occupation of Crimea in 2014, the local branches of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Kyiv Patriarchate (UOC KP) and the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church (UGCC) came under the definition of “agents of foreign influence” and were accused of spreading seditious ideas such as “Ukrainian nationalism” and “separatism.” They faced the risk of receiving the label of “religious organizations created for a nationalistic purpose” and on this basis getting a ban on their activities.

Father Mykola (real name Mykola Mykhailovych Kvych, November 27, 1971) is a Ukrainian priest, priest of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church (UGCC), chief military chaplain of the Crimean Exarchate (since February 13, 2014), chief military chaplain of the Odesa-Crimean Exarchate (until February 13 2014)

Chaplain of the Ukrainian Military University, rector of the Sevastopol parish of the UGCC, Father Mykola Kvych was forced to leave Crimea after, in March 2014, right after one of his services, he was kidnapped at the church by unknown people, held and tortured for 12 hours. While Fr. Mykola was in captivity, his apartment was searched, during which bulletproof vests were seized, which Fr. Mykola had planned to give to journalists and Ukrainian military personnel who were on duty in the regions blockaded by the separatists. Fr. Mykola was threatened with imprisonment in a Russian prison for 15 years. Sevastopol journalist N. Prokhorov recalled this case: “The so-called “Uniates” actively supported Maidan. This clergyman was detained due to the fact that shields and bulletproof vests were found in his possession, which are special items, the free circulation of which is limited among ordinary citizens. On the one hand, these are means of protection. But on the other hand, who were they intended for? The priest’s business is spiritual defense. In the situation of February-March 2014, shields and body armor meant one thing: those who would use them would soon materialize. It is easy to guess what contingent it could be, if at the home of Fr. Mykola Kvych publications dedicated to the OUN-UPA and their nationalist leaders, who are glorified by the current Ukrainian government, were discovered. There’s more. Sometimes the Internet is also dispassionate, and a banal search engine gives out information that… Mykola Kvych is not only currently actively engaged in religious work in the Ternopil region, but at the end of 2014 he managed to stand out as a chaplain of the Ukrainian security forces in Donbas. As we can see, the ideological component of this priest is quite clear, and the fact that he left our city is only for the better, since his stay here could lead to inciting conflicts.”[1]

The Sevastopol community of the UGCC celebrates Easter in Chersonese. 1992

The Russian and Crimean mass media repeatedly made comments about the Crimean Exarchate of the UGCC and its believers, such as, “Crimean Greek-Catholics, like the entire UGCC, supported Euromaidan and all its crimes, but the Vatican Radio was silent about this, so as not to harm the image of martyrs for the faith, which Crimean Greek-Catholics started to emulate. The UGCC in Crimea remained, but lost the opportunity to promote its ideology with impunity, which is a mixture of Ukrainian nationalism with pseudo-Christian theses cut off and adapted to it.”[2] The Crimean online publication “Politnavigator” categorically stated: “The UGCC is the only Ukrainian denomination that openly supports the current war and instructs its parishioners to kill the “Russian occupiers,” and the undisputed authority of the Uniates, former Metropolitan Lyubomyr Huzar, “became famous” for saying that the current crisis and war, which has taken thousands of lives, is God’s grace.”[3] In fact, from the presentation of this media with a Ukrainian-hating (and sometimes generally misanthropic) viewpoint about representatives of a certain church, whose parishes are also in Crimea, an opinion was formed that they are bloodthirsty scum who sleep and look for how to kill someone, and the more perverted and cynical, all the better, since their spiritual leaders at one time “collaborated with the Hitlerites” (“Politnavigator” wrote such a line in the biography of Andrey Sheptytskyi, Metropolitan of the UGCC).

Oleg Rodivilov, the former leader of the “Russian Bloc” in Crimea, and, after the occupation, an employee of the “representation” of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation in Simferopol, contributed to the formation of a negative image of Greek Catholics. Novoross.info made comments regarding the provocations that had fatal consequences within the walls of the Verkhovna Rada on August 31, 2015. The publication expressed the opinion that the religious affiliation of the members of the All-Ukrainian Association “Svoboda,” who attacked the soldiers of the National Guard and internal troops, played a significant role in this conflict: “Next, fascist elements from western Ukraine, and in terms of content – Uniate party “Svoboda” under the leadership of Oleh Tyahnybok provoked mass riots in this ancient Russian city. (…) A new round of escalation of the domestic Ukrainian conflict is unfolding before our eyes, which mainly contains an ethno-cultural aspect. In two words: the Uniates once again stepped on Orthodox Kyiv. The West, with its armed “fifth column,” or rather, its demobilized and armed “right-wing libertarians”, originating from the Sich riflemen of Austria-Hungary and Hitler’s “Nachtigall Battalion”, is again trying to “conquer” the territory of the Orthodox, which is, in fact, still part of the Ukrainian state”. Despite the fact that there is no “Svoboda” party in Crimea, according to Rodivilov, “it is too early to calm down.”[4] Members of Greek Catholic communities were depicted in Crimean publications as “fascists, ideologically hostile to everything Russian and Crimean,” who “had a taste for human blood,” and were “enemies of Orthodoxy,” etc. Meanwhile, members of the Synod of Bishops of the UGCC emphasized that the use of violence in all forms cannot be justified by any political goals; church hierarchs also called on Ukrainians to preserve civil peace and constructive social dialogue.[5]

The delegate of the Holy See is Archpriest Bohdan Kostetskyi

On December 22, 2014, the Apostolic Capital for administrative purposes appointed the Dean of the Crimean Deanery of the UGCC, Fr. Bohdan Kostecki, as a delegate of the pastoral district of the Catholic Church in Crimea for believers of the Eastern Rite. “Now we are trying to somehow legalize ourselves in the current situation,” Fr. Bohdan said in the spring of 2015, reassuring that the Vatican does not officially recognize the annexation of Crimea. In addition, he noted that Ukrainians in Crimea are oppressed. “Some believers left Crimea, and those who remained live in fear and apprehension. The annexation of Crimea divided some families and instigated many quarrels and even divorces. The Church is trying to help people overcome these divisions and unite believers around Christ,” – said Fr. Bohdan. [6]In the fall of 2015, Fr. Yosif Budai, who served in Crimea for 2.5 years, reported: “It is difficult to predict anything now. Our church has not yet been re-registered, but we are not forbidden to gather for services. There is hope that our church will be registered under the name: Catholic Church of the Eastern Rite.”[7]

The application of the Crimean deanery of the UGCC for re-registration under Russian law, submitted in mid-2015, was not confirmed: according to the Chancellor of the Odesa Exarchate of the UGCC, Fr. Mykola Slobodian, the “administration” of the peninsula constantly pointed out minor grammatical errors. One of the priests of the UGCC, who served on the peninsula, reported that the Crimean Deanery of the UGCC could exist “legally” until March 16, 2016, according to documents issued “when it was still Ukraine,” but the process of re-registration was inevitable: “There is a choice: either the liquidation of the community (that is, all religious buildings will be confiscated), or we will settle this issue legally. Both the Vatican and the Ukrainian authorities are working on this.” In addition the priest noted that the phase when it was not known where to expect danger from (and not just from government officials, but from various fanatical people), has passed. No one expressed specific complaints to the priests and parishioners of the UGCC, but general anti-Ukrainian sentiments were felt on the peninsula.[8]

On September 5, 2016, international journalist Protestant theologian Oleksiy Gordeev stated in an interview for the “Dictaphone” podcast that the Russian “authority” in Crimea is not interested in the beliefs professed by certain religious denominations, but rather in their pro-Ukrainian or pro-Russian position. He made these conclusions as a result of visiting his native Sevastopol after the annexation of the peninsula and interacting with representatives of local religious organizations. “The Russian authorities are absolutely not interested in the religious background of the churches, they are only interested in their political position. If you are apolitical, feel free to register under their laws and move on. If you do not register, as is the case with the Kyiv Patriarchate, the consequences will be of a legal nature: property will be confiscated, rent will be refused, and so on. Two years ago, the Russians immediately said that it was necessary to enter the Russian legal field, that they would be transferred to the rails of Russian legislation. The Kyiv Patriarchate strongly resisted this. The Greek Catholics have been silent because they are the most centralized organization under the Vatican. They are almost on the verge of receiving registration, no matter what their colleagues in Lviv say.

They will be registered not as UGCC, but as a Catholic church of the Byzantine rite.[9] In other words, the UGCC in Crimea, like ”fascism,” ”will not fly,” Gordeev said.[10]

On December 5, 2016, the Russian website “Svobodnaya Pressa” published an article by Pavel Shipilin “The Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church has its own views on Crimea as well as Donetsk and Luhansk.” The journalist actually accused the UGCC, which he called “strange and very aggressive”, of a “crusade” against the aforementioned regions. The article used misconceptions around the Crimean parishes of the UGCC. According to the author, the creation of the Crimean Exarchate of this church in February 2014, a few days before the escape of President Viktor Yanukovych from Ukraine, was due to the fact that the UGCC “wanted to convert the Orthodox peninsula to the “true faith”, which Euromaidan allegedly gave an excellent opportunity for. The author does not consider the question of why the UGCC failed to convert all Crimeans into Greek Catholics for almost a quarter of a century of its existence on the peninsula. Shipilin claimed that the UGCC’s missionary interest in Crimea faded since the peninsula “successfully left Banderist Ukraine and became part of Russia.” At the same time, in his opinion, there “isn’t and never was” a congregation that needs to be taken care of in Crimea. “The Uniates believe that sooner or later they will return to the peninsula victorious and teach the local Christians the correct prayers,” the author stated.[11]

As of January 2016, there was only one UGCC priest in Crimea on a permanent basis; others had the right to worship on the peninsula on a rotational basis, provided they had migration cards, since they, as citizens of Ukraine, had the right to stay on the territory of Crimea annexed by Russia for no more than 90 days. In June 2016, there were 5 Greek Catholic parishes registered in accordance with Russian legislation and formally subordinated to the Vatican functioning in Crimea. According to sources, these parishes were considered independent from the UGCC, and “emphasis on their Ukrainian status could cause real damage.” The Crimean religious communities of the UGCC were forced to refuse to declare their structural affiliation, using the name “[Greek] Catholic Church of the Byzantine Rite” during the “re-registration.”[12] On October 19, 2016, this fact was confirmed by the Simferopol and Crimean UOC KP Archbishop Klyment in a comment to “Public Radio”: “As for the UGCC [in Crimea], they are registered as a Roman Catholic Church of the Eastern Rite.”[13]

On July 5, 2017, the administrator of the Crimean Exarchate, Bishop Mykhail Bubniy, said that all religious organizations in Crimea were forced to re-register under Russian legislation: “When we submitted the documents, we were immediately given a negative answer and unofficially told: if you want to keep the parishes, you need to change the name. “Ukrainian” and “Greek-Catholic” – was a no-go. After consultations with the Apostolic Nuncio and the Apostolic See, we came to the conclusion that it is better to change the name than to lose parishes and leave the faithful. Therefore, these parishes were re-registered as Catholic churches of the Byzantine rite. And we managed to re-register the 5 main parishes: in Kerch, Yevpatoria, Simferopol, Yalta and Sevastopol. Recently, it was possible to re-register the exarchate, I received the documents on May 12.”[14]

The following paragraph can be found in the expert conclusions of the Council for State Religious Expertise under the Ministry of Justice of the Russian Federation regarding RCC parishes in Crimea dated April 8, 2015: “In December 2014, taking into account the inclusion of Crimea in the Russian Federation, a separate pastoral district was created in the republic. (…) According to the information submitted to the Expert Council of the State Secretariat of the Vatican, the district is removed from the jurisdiction of the Odesa-Simferopol Diocese and is directly subordinated to the State Secretariat.” Similar classifications of 5 Crimean parishes of the UGCC as “local religious organizations of the Catholic Church of the Byzantine Rite” were received on February 24, 2016; corresponding requests from the “head office” of the Russian Ministry of Justice for Crimea and Sevastopol with the addition of relevant documents were submitted as early as October 13, 2015. A representative of the Crimean parishes, a believer of the UGCC, Oleksandr Shvedov from Moscow, covered the activities of the church in the Crimea after the occupation of the peninsula. (With time he was ordained a deacon in Ukraine and attached to the Crimean Exarchate). As a result of the examination, the parishes were recognized as religious organizations, but with a clarification was made: “In the provided information, the issue of jurisdictional affiliation and relation to the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, whose bishop remains Bishop Mykhail Bubniy, who is the exarch of Catholics of the Byzantine Rite in Crimea, is not properly clarified.” The conclusions of the expert council of the Russian Ministry of Justice state: “Since 2014, the parishes have been part of the Crimean Exarchate. The State Secretariat of the Vatican (Section for Relations with Countries) in letter No. 5790/14/RS dated December 22, 2014, confirmed that the Catholic Church of the Byzantine Rite operates in Crimea and in the city of Sevastopol in the form of the Crimean Exarchate. After the acceptance of the Republic of Crimea into the Russian Federation in accordance with the Federal Constitutional Law No. 6-FKZ dated March 21, 2014, “On the adoption of the Republic of Crimea into the Russian Federation and the formation of new entities within the Russian Federation – the Republic of Crimea and the federal city of Sevastopol;” a decision was made to remain faithful to the Pope and the archpastors appointed by him, to belong to the Crimean Exarchate of the Catholic Church of the Byzantine Rite, created by the Apostolic See (Vatican), and to be subordinate to his exarch or administrator and the priests appointed by him.”[15]

In the monograph authored by Crimean political scientists “Ethnopolitical processes in Crimea: historical experience, modern problems and prospects for their solution”, which saw the light of day in October 2015, in the section “Religious situation and interfaith relations in Crimea”, the UGCC was mentioned only once – as a denomination which intensified its activities in the Crimea at the same time as the revival of Orthodoxy and Islam.

Both before and after the Russian occupation of Crimea, the UGCC was forced to hold services either in Roman Catholic churches or in adapted premises, having only one small church on the entire peninsula, built “from scratch” according to the proper canons, in which services were held extremely rarely. In June 2016, it became known that the Greek-Catholic community of Yevpatoria was left without a room where religious services were held; they held services in a temporary chapel, which for several years was located in the premises of the library of the central resort polyclinic on the Gorky Embankment. Unlike during the post-occupation period in 2014 and 2015, in 2016 the landlords did not renew the agreement with the community. It should be noted that a Greek-Catholic church was being built in the city, but the work on its construction was not actually carried out after the occupation due to a lack of funds and manpower.

On September 7, 2016, the “judge of the Lenin District Court” of Sevastopol, Nadiya Istyagina, issued a ruling in administrative case No. 5-488/2016, initiated by the “Department of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Russian Federation for the Lenin District” against the city community of the UGCC, registered under Russian law as a “local religious organization of the Catholic Church of the Byzantine rite.” The reason was that there was a parish priest who served in the community (the name was not stated), who was a citizen of Ukraine and did not have a Russian work permit or patent. The fact was recorded on May 22, 2016, but the “court” documents contained a record about an administrative offense dated March 31, 2016 (shortly after the parish received Russian registration). Also, testimony was taken from the priest twice – on 05/22 and 07/08/2016. According to the “court”, community representative V. A. Krylchuk “admitted the wrongdoing of a legal entity in committing an administrative offense.” The “Court” imposed an administrative penalty on the Sevastopol Greek-Catholic community in the form of suspension of activity for a period of 14 days. In its decision, the “court” was guided by part 1 of Art. 18.15 of the Code of Administrative Offenses of the Russian Federation, which establishes the responsibility of a legal entity for engaging a foreign citizen in employment in the absence of a work permit or patent, as well as clause 4 of Art. 13 of the Federal Law of July 25, 2002 No. 115-FZ “On the Legal Status of Foreign Citizens in the Russian Federation.”[16]

On October 27, 2017, the World Religion News website published the article “Should Ukrainian priests preach in Crimea and what for?”[17], the author of which is the French priest Jean Joseph Ecole, professor emeritus of the Catholic University d’Angers. The material contained the subtitle “The UGCC and the UOC [Kyiv Patriarchate] differ in views” [on the situation in Crimea]. The article was noticed by Russian propaganda publications (in particular, Regnum, but with a significant delay — at the beginning of November), who presented it under headlines such as “French priest accused the Uniates of ignoring the congregation in Crimea.”[18] At the beginning of the article, it is told how th patriarch of the UGCC Svyatoslav (Shevchuk) in his sermon on the feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord in the Dobromil monastery of St. Vasyl urged the monks to preach in the Crimea and Donbas, where “the body of our Church suffers the most.” In the opinion of the author, this call is a reaction to significant staffing problems in the direction of pastoral care in the territories not controlled by Kyiv: there is a critical shortage of Greek Catholic ministers. In particular, priests are leaving Crimea, and few are ready to take their place. “For once, UGCC’s Assumption parish minister Father Joseph [Budai] on July 30 declared his unwillingness to preach in Sevastopol and left. It’s not the only case in three years. Some priests even ask for deportation, eager to escape from the hateful peninsula. As a result, the flocks feel unwanted, they decrease in membership. Seeing that for many priests ministering is not a mission and obedience, the youth and middle-age members leave their congregations, and, what’s most terrible, with their children. Thus, the size of the Sevastopol parish dropped from 100 to 40 people. Believers constantly need confessors, to whom one can come with their spiritual needs, who can spiritually assist in dealing with the lasting issue of places of worship, building their own cathedrals. However, not even five of the UGCC 5,000 ministers dare to take a long-term mission in Crimea to guide those being in need of it – the same Greek Catholics as anywhere. The priests are terrified, bad living conditions and inconveniences repel them. ‘Why doesn’t the beneficence of Andrey and Clement Sheptytsky, Theodore Romzha, Josaphat Kotsylovsky, Grigory Khomishin, Nykyta Budka, Pavel Goydich, Gregory Lakota, Ivan Lyatyshevsky, Vasily Gopko encourage our fathers who just “don’t want” to preach in Crimea?’ believers ask. The Crimea UGCC Dean Father Bohdan Kostetsky admits that living in Crimea, especially with family, is not easy. But if the congregation also faces these or that problems, isn’t it the duty of the pastor to be side by side with it? What’s more, the priests, coming as “tourists”, whether because of their light-mindedness or patriotism, violate Russia’s migration legislation. As a result, they are fined and have to seek the flock’s assistance to pay these fines. If the pastors recognized their duty, and personal responsibility for their congregation, they would have avoided these problems. They would be able to stay with their believers legally for more or less long term, be granted a patent [for work], permission to stay or even [a] Russian passport, and wouldn’t have to leave their congregation. Clearly, the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church ministers face a choice between their political beliefs, patriotism and the interests of the Church and believers. But Father Bohdan hasn’t fled from the place he preaches at! Instead, he endures all the hardships for the sake of the Church. It means one can overcome anything by the grace of God,” – writes the author, who apparently does not see any contradictions in the fact that the priests of the UGCC – are citizens of Ukraine who must unconditionally fulfill the requirements of the occupation legislation on the peninsula occupied by Russia. The fact is that Fr. Bohdan Kostetsky in the spring of 2014, during the Russian occupation of Crimea, left the peninsula together with four other priests of the UGCC, and then returned and lived there on a permanent basis – apparently, having a local residence permit and therefore being “automatically” recognized as a “citizen of the Russian Federation” and having received relevant documents, and also, according to the testimony of residents of Yevpatoria, being a frequent guest in the occupation “city administration”. At the same time, the author of the publication considers the occupying “administration” of the peninsula as a legitimate authority and reproaches the Ukrainian churches for not obeying its decisions. It is quite obvious that he received information exclusively from information sources of the aggressor state.

Administrator of the Crimean Exarchate His Eminence Bishop Kyr Mykhail (Bubnii)

On July 31, 2017, the administrator of the Crimean Exarchate, Bishop Mikhail (Bubniy), commented on the situation with the UGCC in occupied Crimea. In particular, he noted that he does not discuss the political situation in Crimea with the priests serving there: “We are more interested in religious and spiritual issues. Even before the annexation, I visited Crimea several times and I can say that the mood of most people was always pro-Russian. And now it does not feel that they have radically changed their view. I can say that now there is calm and waiting for better times. When it comes to the local population, I wouldn’t say that people are very aggressive towards Ukrainians and everything Ukrainian – in general, the situation there is calm.” Nevertheless, external pressure was applied to the believers of the UGCC in Crimea so that they would not profess their faith, noted Bishop Mykhail. “Blessed Sviatoslav once called the faithful who go to our church in Crimea confessors of the faith. And I can confidently confirm this. Many left for mainland Ukraine after the annexation, but those who had nowhere to go were forced to stay. Indeed, it is not easy there. They are constantly watching you, keeping their finger on the pulse, in case of violation of any law, they immediately open a court case. We had a case in Sevastopol, when the court imposed a fine on the community and forbade it to hold services for two weeks because the Basilian father who served there overstayed his stay in Crimea and did not cross the border in time. But our faithful in Crimea are very strong in spirit and do not pay attention to anything. They know that this is their church, the church of their parents and great-grandparents, they remain faithful to it, because they have learned the truth, and the truth makes them free, so they are not ashamed and are not afraid even to walk in embroidered dresses. With the beginning of the annexation, a very difficult situation arose. Everyone, especially pro-Ukrainian citizens, began to feel very strong psychological pressure: it is not known how events will develop, what will happen tomorrow, whether they will start shooting or not, what will happen to their families, how the occupiers will treat them, etc. Therefore, the married priests who served there at that time asked to leave the Crimea. They had a conversation with His Beatitude (Sviatoslav (Shevchuk) head of the UGCC) and me. It was very difficult to make a decision at that time, because people were left without a pastor, but considering the fact that they presented the situation as very threatening for them and their families, they were still allowed to leave the parish,” he said. According to the hierarch, during the first two years of the annexation of Crimea, four priests pastored on the peninsula: in addition to Fr. Bohdan Kostecki, they were monks of the Basilian, Redemptorist and Studite congregations. “Thanks to the fact that the men’s consecrated communities responded positively to my request for priests, we managed to save our communities there. But today the situation there is very difficult, because the hegumen of the Studites recalled his monk, and the Basilian monk was forbidden to enter the territory of Crimea, so there are only two priests left there, who are physically unable to serve all 5 parishes, the distance between which is from 150 to 280 kilometers [100 to 170 miles],” the bishop said. He also noted that married priests have reservations about the adaptation of their families on the peninsula: “Children need to go to school, and all educational institutions there are Russian-speaking. Sometimes in schools, children treat those who speak Ukrainian with contempt and are very unfriendly. In light of this, as well as for various other reasons, married priests do not have the courage to go to Crimea for service. From time to time I still manage to ask someone to go there for a while to serve, but this cannot last forever. It is necessary that there should still be sacrificial missionaries-apostles among our clergy who would be ready to respond to the signs of the times and serve our faithful in Crimea, who are in great need of support from the Church.”[19]

At the end of June 2018, the situation of the UGCC in Crimea was described by Fr. Oleksiy Horobets-Dolmatov (Order of Saint Basil the Great)[20]: “During the “Russian Spring;” many parishioners of the UGCC left Crimea. In Sevastopol, where I worked, 79 remained. I was told that then [the “head of Crimea” Sergey] Aksyonov stated that there would be no UGCC in Crimea, but later, after the meeting of Russian President Vladimir Putin with Pope Francis, the situation completely changed. Special persecution by the local population or “official authorities” doesn’t happen. It is enough that the Russian legislation itself is strict with regard to non-traditional faiths, to which we, unfortunately, for some reason belong. It is not as liberal as in Ukraine, and therefore there are certain restrictions on activities. Last year, the so-called “Yarova package;” – a package of anti-terrorist laws, according to which every parishioner must be registered, including to lists with passport data. There are people who stopped going to church for obvious reasons. According to the “Yarova package,” we do not have the right to hold joint prayers outside the church, but only in the temple or somewhere in cemeteries. The prohibition of propaganda of one’s denomination, one’s faith, also applies. In this context, we have a certain problem – if I submit on our page the schedule of services for Easter or Holy Week, will it not be considered as a violation of this precept? Another rule is that only those who are on the list of parishioners can be present during the service in the church. If the FSB or the Ministry of Internal Affairs found out that we have a person who goes to church, but is not included in this list, then there could be problems.

“The authorities” refused to register Ukrainian public organizations, and our church is the only center for people where they can feel themselves Ukrainians. Various Ukrainian holidays are held in churches – Mother’s Day, Saint Nicholas Day, Independence Day of Ukraine, Vyshyvanka Day, Flag Day. We now celebrate all these holidays within the walls of our churches or chapels. Nowadays, in Crimea, one must have a strong psyche – because even if there are no direct threats or open persecution, the very situation in which we find ourselves requires stability, endurance and courage from us in order to survive in the midst of that environment, which is hostile to everything Ukrainian.” Subsequently, this text was removed from almost all hosting resources for unknown reasons.

On February 12, 2019, Archbishop Kliment of the Simferopol and Crimean Orthodox Church of Ukraine, among other things, told “Hromadske Television” about the conditions of existence of the UGCC in occupied Crimea: “They had very powerful communities. In 2014, they re-registered as a Catholic Church of the Eastern Rite, therefore they are directly subordinated to the Vicariate created by the Vatican specifically to serve the parishes of both the Roman and Greek Catholic Churches in Crimea. I wouldn’t say it’s easier for them. The premises [in Yevpatoria] in which they performed divine services were taken away, and they were thrown out into the street.

Therefore, registration under Russian legislation is not yet a fact that you will be left and you will continue worshiping.”[21]

At the beginning of June 2019 it became known that the Sevastopol parish of the UGCC was fined 30,000 rubles for not having a sign with the full name of the religious organization on the church building.[22]

At the end of July 2019, Archpriest of the Russian Orthodox Church Oleg Trofimov, who fled from Ukraine to Russia during the Revolution of Dignity, spoke in Sevastopol at the “plenary session of the 5th International Congress of Anti-Fascists “The Role of the Younger Generation in the Anti-Fascist Struggle.”” with a report on “The introduction of fascist ideology by the Vatican in Ukraine with the aim of its religious expansion: history and modernity.” In his conclusions, he stated the following: “The Catholic Church betrayed Christ and became the servant of the devil. To achieve their “missionary” expansion goals, the Vatican chose the ideology of fascism, which is a virus very close to religion, a disease for the human soul. We see how Christianity, which has retreated from the Gospel, from Orthodoxy, has acquired frighteningly ugly forms. The Vatican has a wide network of its structure (parishes, educational institutions, hundreds of “charitable” organizations) and still operates successfully on the territory of Russia. Their only goal is the expansion into Russia. There is only one conclusion: the ideological war waged by the Vatican against Russia suggests that a physical war is inevitable, an inevitable military clash between the Western world of the Antichrist and Orthodox Russia. It should be mentioned that the Greek Catholic priest Mykola Kvych was arrested here in Crimea by FSB officers. He kept weapons, military ammunition, and banned leaflets for the banderist bloodshed in Crimea. The cloaks and hands of the Greek Catholics are covered in the Christian blood of innocent people. They do not change their fascist rhetoric: it is enough to see the fascist “icons” UGCC and listen to their “sermons”. We must gather wisdom and willpower to ban such a religious organization as the Greek Catholics in Russia as a terrorist organization and liquidate it.”[23]

On October 14, 2020, “justice of the peace” Petro Kireev fined the Yalta Greek Catholic parish 30,000 rubles for the transfer of the relics of Saint Nicholas of Myra in accordance with Part 3 of Art. 5.26 of the Code of Administrative Offenses of the Russian Federation[24] – “Performance by a religious organization without indicating its official full name, including the release or distribution within the framework of missionary activities of literature, printed, audio and video materials without labeling with the specified name or with incomplete or false labeling in advance”; this sanction, in addition to an administrative fine in the amount of 30,000 to 50,000 rubles, provides for the confiscation of literature, printed, audio and video materials.

In November 2020, in an interview with the publication “Livіy bereh”, Metropolitan Kliment of the Simferopol and Crimean Orthodox Church of Ukraine said that he has a negative attitude towards the representatives of the Crimean Roman and Greek Catholic communities, because in their environment “there is no patriotism, there is purely pragmatism.” At the same time, he expressed regret about the history of Fr. Mykola Kvych, adding that the rest of the priests of the UGCC, of ​​whom “there were not many – two or three”, “are peacefully in the territory of Crimea;” one of them (he probably meant Fr. Bohdan Kostetskyi) in the first days of the events of 2014 supposedly “went to Moscow and started trading,” as a result of which the parishes of the Crimean Deanery of the UGCC were forced to undergo “re-registration” under the legislation of the occupying state as “Catholic the Church of the Eastern Rite”. “It is not said at all that they are Ukrainians! They have not lost anything,” Bishop Kliment said.[25]



[2] http://odnarodyna.org/content/uniaty-opekuny-ukrainskogo-nacionalisticheskogo-dvizheniya


[4] http://www.novoross.info/general/32903-oleg-rodivilov-uniaty-vnov-poshli-na-kiev.html

[5] http://news.ugcc.ua/news/sinod_yepiskop_74659.html

[6] http://cerkiew.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/blahowist-2015.03.pdf


[8] http://krymsos.com/news/yak-ukrayinskim-tserkvam-u-krimu-vdayetsya-zalishatisya-ukrayinskimi/

[9] The Greek Catholic parishes of Crimea received “Russian state registration” during the period from March 18 to March 30, 2016.

[10] http://dictaphone.org.ua/2016/09/05/gordeev/

[11] http://svpressa.ru/society/article/159979/

[12] http://www.regnum.ru/news/society/1900393.html

[13] https://hromadske.radio/news/2016/10/19/seychas-v-ukraynskyh-cerkvyah-kryma-pryhozhan-stalo-bolshe-vladyka-klyment

[14]http://pmv.ugcc.org.ua/latest-news/item/579-vladyka-mykhailbubnii-zavdannia-kozhnoho- sviashchenyka-buty-hotovym-ity-tudy- de tserkva-potrebuie.html


[16] http://sudact.ru/regular/doc/xOvNTtxUoC5O/

[17] http://www.worldreligionnews.com/?p=44647

[18] https://regnum.ru/news/polit/2341708.html

[19] http://pmv.ugcc.org.ua/publikatsiji/item/616-vl-mykhail-bubnii-ya-ne-mih-sobi-uiavyty-shcho-hospod-zakhoche-mene-poslaty-na-sluzhinnia-do-odesy-ale-v-monastyri-nas-vykhovaly-de-tserkva-tebe-potrebuie-tudy-ty-povynen-buty-hotovyi-pity.html

[20] http://religionpravda.com.ua/2018/06/27/kozhen-parfiyanin-ugkc-v-krimu-povinen/

[21] https://hromadske.ua/posts/ya-pidu-do-kincya-arhiyepiskop-klimentpro-znishennya-ukrayinskoyi-cerkvi-v-okupovanomu-krimu-ta-svoye goloduvannya-pid-ap

[22] “Peninsula of fear”: five years of captivity in the Crimea / Edited by O. Skripnik. – Third edition, revised and enlarged. – K: Paperovi Zmiy-OPT, 2019. – 140 p. – P. 110-111.

[23] http://antifashist.org/news/vnedrenie_vatikanom_fashistskoj_ideologii_na_ukraine/2019-07-31-3901

[24] https://crimeahrg.org/ru/v-krymu-prodolzhayut-presledovat-veruyushhih-uzhe-bolee-sotni-del-za-nezakonnuyu-missionerskuyu-deyatelnost/

[25] https://lb.ua/news/2020/11/21/471029_mitropolit_kliment_ya_perebuvayu.html



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Sergii Konashevich

Author of numerous culturological publications, editor of Ukrainian Culture Publishing House LLC

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