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Draft law on banning the activities of the Russian Orthodox Church

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By Willy Fautré, director of Human Rights Without Frontiers

HRWF (28.11.2022) – On 24 November, the website of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine published the text of draft law No. 8221 banning the activities of the Russian Orthodox Church represented on the territory of Ukraine by the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (UOC). 

The bill outlaws the activity of any religious organizations or institutions, which are part or in any way accountable to the Russian Orthodox Church “in canonical, organizational and other issues,” the European Solidarity Party said on Telegram.

The party said that the bill aimed at preventing threats to the national security of Ukraine and providing order, and described “the liberation of Ukraine from the Russian Orthodox Church as yet another step towards independent Ukraine.”

The authors of draft law No. 8221 “On ensuring the strengthening of national security in the sphere of freedom of conscience and activities of religious organizations” propose a ban on the activities of

  • the Russian Orthodox Church,
  • religious organizations (associations) that are directly or as constituent parts of another religious organization (association) included in the structure (are part of) the Russian Orthodox Church,
  • religious centers (management), who are part of or recognize (declare) in any form subordination in canonical, organizational, and other matters to the Russian Orthodox Church.

It is assumed that all transactions related to the use of property (renting, hiring, leasing, etc.), the validity period of which has not expired, concluded between residents of Ukraine and the relevant foreign religious organization, as well as with legal entities, the owner, participant, shareholder of which it is, they are terminated prematurely.

The peculiarities of the naming of religious organizations are established, in particular, the possibility for a religious organization to use the word “Orthodox” in its name (both full and abbreviated), in the name, only if this religious organization is subordinate in canonical and organizational matters to Orthodox Church of Ukraine.

Alexey Goncharenko, a Ukrainian Verkhovnaya Rada deputy from the European Solidarity Party, has asked Prime Minister Denis Shmygal to deprive the Ukrainian Orthodox Church/ Moscow Patriarchate of the right to rent the Kyiv Lavra of the Caves and the Pochayev Lavra.

If this law is adopted, the famous monasteries Kyiv-PecherskHoly Assumption Pochaiv and Sviatohirsk Lavra would become the property of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine (OCU), founded in 2018 under President Poroshenko and affiliated with the Patriarchate of Constantinople.

Photo : Verkhovna Rada

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