Home World Ukraine’s lawmakers vote to prohibit Russia-linked church, marking initial step towards banishment.

Ukraine’s lawmakers vote to prohibit Russia-linked church, marking initial step towards banishment.

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Ukrainian Parliament Approves Law to Ban Ukrainian Orthodox Church

Law Passed to Ban Ukrainian Orthodox Church

The Ukrainian parliament has given its initial approval to a law that would ban the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (UOC) due to its alleged collaboration with Russia following last year’s invasion. The UOC, which has historical ties with Moscow but claims to no longer be aligned with the Russian Orthodox Church, denies these accusations and argues that the proposed law would be unconstitutional.

The Orthodox Church of Ukraine

Most Ukrainian Christians are members of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine (OCU), which was formed in 2018 from two churches that declared independence from Moscow. In contrast, the UOC’s following in Ukraine has significantly decreased to just 4% of the population from its previous 18% before Russia’s invasion in February 2022, according to polling by the Kyiv International Institute of Sociology.

Support for the Law

Deputies have voted in favor of the bill in its first reading, according to Yaroslav Zheleznyak, a member of parliament. The bill still needs to pass a second reading and gain approval from the president before it can be enacted. The proposed law aims to ban the activities of religious organizations affiliated with countries engaged in armed aggression against Ukraine, and court intervention may be required to terminate such activities.

Response from Russia and the UOC

Patriarch Kirill, the head of Russia’s Orthodox Church, has urged Orthodox and other churches to take action to prevent Ukraine’s proposed law from being enacted. The UOC has argued that the draft law is in violation of the European Convention on Human Rights and Ukraine’s constitution. They assert that they are an independent church and accuse Kyiv of falsely associating them with the Russian Orthodox Church and portraying their clergy and believers as agents of Russia.

Legal Challenges and Security Concerns

Analyst Volodymyr Fesenko suggests that a ban on the UOC could be challenged both within Ukraine and at the European Court of Human Rights. To potentially circumvent the issue, Fesenko proposes that the church could register as a new entity without any reference to its previous ties with Russia. The Ukrainian Security Service has initiated 68 criminal cases, including accusations of treason, against the UOC representatives since Russia’s invasion.

In conclusion, the Ukrainian parliament has taken steps towards banning the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, sparking debates and legal challenges. The proposed law has raised concerns about religious freedom and the relationship between Ukraine and Russia. It remains to be seen how this situation will unfold and whether the ban will ultimately come into effect.