MINISTRY FOR VETERANS AFFAIRS HAS DEVELOPED A PROJECT THAT WILL HELP THE STATE TO EFFECTIVELY DEFEND THE RIGHTS OF THE ORTHODOX CHURCH OF UKRAINE AND ITS BELIEVERS IN THE OCCUPIED CRIMEA
The Ministry for Veterans Affairs, Temporarily Occupied Territories and Internally Displaced Persons of Ukraine has developed a draft resolution of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine «On the provision of authority to the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine to manage part of the property premises of the Saint Equal-to-the-Apostles Prince Volodymyr and Olha Cathedral» in order to protect the religious community of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (Orthodox Church of Ukraine) from illegal actions, persecution and oppression by the occupation authorities.
This act of individual action is intended to contribute to a more effective protection by the state of the right of the religious community of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (Orthodox Church of Ukraine (hereinafter referred to as OCU)) to freedom of religion.
The draft was developed jointly with the Office of the President of Ukraine in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea.
Recall that for six years of the ongoing temporary occupation, the occupation administration of the Russian Federation on the Crimean Peninsula has been systematically working to deprive the religious community of the OCU of opportunities to satisfy their religious needs. Consistently implemented policies aimed at the destruction of the OCU Cathedrals.
It should be noted that the Crimean Diocese of the OCU is the only religious community on the Peninsula that refused to «re-register» the religious organization in accordance with the requirements of the legislation of the Russian Federation. This, in turn, has become one of the reasons for the persecution of clergy and believers of the OCU.
The fact of unlawful requirements for «re-registration», violation of property rights and persecution of the OCU community in the Crimean Peninsula was recorded, in particular, in the draft resolution «Situation of human rights in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol (Ukraine)», which was approved at the meeting of The United Nations General Assembly Third Committee (hereinafter referred to as «UNGA») on November 14, 2019. The facts of violations of the rights of religious communities, in particular the communities of the OCU, on the Crimean Peninsula were reflected in a number of previous relevant resolutions of the UNGA dated by December 19, 2016 No. 71/205, December 19, 2017 No. 72/190 and December 22, 2018 No. 73/194. Also in December of this year, the US Congress introduced a bill to support religious freedom in Ukraine, which condemns the oppression of believers living in the territory of the temporarily occupied Luhansk and Donetsk Oblasts, as well as Crimea and Sevastopol, including religious community of OCU by the Russian Federation.
The violation of international law by the occupying state in the field of religious freedom has led to a catastrophic reduction in the number of churches and clergy of the Crimean Diocese of the OCU. The occupation on the Crimean Peninsula led to the fact that out of 48 religious’ communities (parishes, missions, fraternities, and a monastery), only 7 remained. And only 4 clergies continue their work out of 23on the Peninsula.
The Crimean Diocese of the OCU has been in trials for six years, both in the temporarily occupied territory and in the Russian Federation, as well as in the European Court of Human Rights, trying to protect the right of its believers to visit the Ukrainian Church and pray in Ukrainian.
The Ministry for Veterans Affairs also calls on the international community to continue to take systematic consolidated steps to increase pressure on the Russian Federation due to its violation of international law, which protects the right to profess religion, religious practices and protect against discrimination, as well as the right of believers to participate in religious practices and demonstration of their religious views.