ALLEGATION BY MTOT ON THE DESTRUCTION OF THE ORTHODOX CHURCH OF UKRAINE BY OCCUPATION AUTHORITIES IN CRIMEA
On 24 July 2019 property items were stolen from the Cathedral of the Holy Equal of the Apostles Prince Volodymyr and Princess Olha of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine (hereinafter reffered to as «OCU») in Simferopol
A month earlier, namely on 28 June 2019, the judiciary of the occupation authorities of the Russian Federation obliged the Crimean Diocese of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine to transfer the premises of both the Diocese and the Cathedral to the so-called «Ministry of Property and Land Relations of Crimea». Without informing the Crimean Diocese, the constructors dismantled the roof, which led to the flooding of the church premises and damage of the property, installed a fence around the building, removed windows and doors. All these so-called repair works are carried out on the instructions of the occupation authorities, namely the so-called «Ministry of Property and Land Relations of Crimea». Now the cathedral is in a terrible, dilapidation state.
Until 2014 in the Crimean Diocese of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church – Kyiv Patriarchate there were 46 parishes, 3 Orthodox brotherhoods, 1 mission and 1 friary. For 5 years of existence in the occupation, the Church remained with 9 parishes and 4 priests.
The Ukrainian church in Crimea was and remains under constant control and pressure. From the very first days of the occupation, the Church was vociferous in strong statements about the Russian aggression; moreover, it was the only religious organization that refused to re-register as required by the legislation of the aggressor country. It may be said without exaggeration today, that OCU in Crimea is one of the symbols of non-violent resistance to an unlawful attempt to annex Crimea by the Russian Federation.
The Ministry for Temporarily Occupied Territories and Internally Displaced Persons of Ukraine condemns the illegal activities of the Russian Federation in the territory of the temporarily occupied Crimea, connected with the illegal seizure of property in a religious community, depriving the ability of people of faith and priests of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine to practice their religious observances and to worship. Such actions of the Russian Federation are a direct violation of the norms of International Humanitarian Law and International Human Rights Law. MTOT emphasizes that all responsibility for what was done, according to international law, lie with the Russian Federation.
MTOT draws attention to the need to consolidate joint efforts with international partners in order to take further steps to increase pressure on the Russian Federation due to its violation of the provisions of international law, that protects the right to profess faith, practice religious observances and protects from discrimination, as well as the right of people of faith to participate in religious ceremonies and demonstration of their religious views.