Home World Ukraine’s parliament votes in favor of initial ban on Russia-linked church, a Reuters report says.

Ukraine’s parliament votes in favor of initial ban on Russia-linked church, a Reuters report says.

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Ukraine’s Parliament Approves Initial Vote to Ban Russia-Linked Church

Parliament Supports Draft Law to Ban Ukrainian Orthodox Church

The Ukrainian parliament has taken a significant step towards banning the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (UOC) after accusing it of collaborating with Russia following last year’s invasion. The UOC, which claims it is no longer aligned with the Russian Orthodox Church, denies the allegations and argues that the proposed law would be unconstitutional.

Initial Approval and Next Steps

Deputies voted in favor of the bill during its first reading, according to member of parliament Yaroslav Zheleznyak. However, the law still needs to be supported in a second reading and approved by the president before it can be enforced.

The Scope of the Law

If implemented, the law would prohibit religious organizations affiliated with countries engaging in armed aggression against Ukraine from operating within the country. The termination of such organizations’ activities could be decided by a court of law.

Historic Vote and Controversy

Lawmaker Iryna Herashchenko described the vote as historic, emphasizing that it marks the first step towards removing “Moscow priests from the Ukrainian land.” However, the UOC argues that the proposed law contradicts the European Convention on Human Rights and Ukraine’s constitution.

UOC’s Relationship with Russia

The UOC, which considers itself an independent and separate church, accuses Kyiv of falsely associating it with the Russian Orthodox Church and labeling its Ukrainian clergymen and believers as “agents of the Russian Federation.” The Ukrainian authorities have long viewed the UOC as loyal to Moscow, and tensions have escalated since Russia’s invasion in February 2022.

Legal and Political Implications

Despite the UOC’s declaration of cutting ties with the Russian Orthodox Church, a government commission maintains that the UOC is still canonically linked to Russia. In response, the UOC Metropolitan Pavlo has been accused of inciting inter-religious hatred and distributing materials justifying Russian aggression. Ukrainian authorities have initiated 68 criminal cases against UOC representatives since the invasion.

Potential Challenges and Alternative Solutions

Political analyst Volodymyr Fesenko suggests that a ban on the UOC is unlikely to fully halt its activities and could be challenged in Ukraine and at the European Court of Human Rights. Fesenko proposes that the church could register as a new entity without any reference to its canonical ties with Russia.

It remains to be seen how this proposed law will progress and what impact it will have on the UOC and its relationship with Russia. The situation is complex, with legal, political, and religious implications that will shape the future of religious organizations in Ukraine.