Ukraine Proposes Bill to Potentially Ban Moscow-Linked Church
Parliament Takes Action
Ukraine’s parliament has introduced a draft law aimed at allowing the ban of activities by the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (UOC), which has links to Moscow. The move comes as the church faces accusations of undermining Ukraine’s unity and collaborating with Russia following the invasion in February 2022. The church denies these charges.
The draft bill suggests amendments that would enable a court to ban religious organizations if they include members convicted of war propaganda, violate an article that forbids justifying Russian aggression against Ukraine, or infringe on citizens’ equal rights based on religious beliefs. This registration of the draft bill is the initial step towards becoming law. It now requires approval from a parliamentary committee before being submitted for consideration by parliament.
Accusations Against Metropolitan Pavel
UOC Metropolitan Pavel has been notified of suspicions that he incited inter-religious hatred and distributed materials justifying Russian aggression. However, he denies these allegations.
UOC’s Alleged Ties to Russian Orthodox Church
An explanatory note attached to the bill claims that the UOC is seen as a structural part of the Russian Orthodox Church, and its activities are believed to support the armed aggression of the Russian Federation. The UOC previously accepted the authority of the patriarch of Moscow but claims to have severed ties with Russia following last year’s invasion. The Kremlin considers the actions against the UOC to be illegal.
The UOC insists that it is the victim of a political witch hunt and argues against the allegations made by Kyiv. As this proposed ban progresses, tensions between the Ukrainian government and the UOC are likely to escalate. The outcome of this law could have significant implications for religious freedom and the relationship between Ukraine and Russia.
The draft law introduced by Ukraine’s parliament raises concerns about the potential ban on the Moscow-linked Ukrainian Orthodox Church. While the church denies the allegations against it, the proposed amendments and accusations against Metropolitan Pavel highlight the ongoing tensions between Ukraine and Russia. The future of the UOC hangs in the balance as the bill awaits further consideration.