Espreso. Global

Ukrainian parliament adopts bill to ban religious organizations linked to Russia

19 October, 2023 Thursday

On October 19, the Verkhovna Rada (Ukrainian parliament) passed a bill amending certain laws of Ukraine regarding the activities of religious organizations in the country

This is reported by MPs Oleksii Honcharenko and Yaroslav Zhelezniak.

This decision was supported by 267 MPs.

In particular, bill number 8371 was supported: Servant of the People - 175 votes, European Solidarity - 26, Batkivshchyna - 17, Platform for Life and Peace - 1, For the Future - 8, Voice - 18, and Dovira - 12.

The parliamentary group Restoration of Ukraine did not give a single vote.

According to Yevheniia Kravchuk, deputy head of the Servant of the People faction, a working group will be set up within the Verkhovna Rada Committee on Humanitarian and Information Policy to work on amendments and proposals to the draft law before it is sent for a second reading.

The activities of the UOC-MP in Ukraine and initiatives to ban it

The government's draft law number 8371 on amendments to certain laws of Ukraine regarding the activities of religious organizations in Ukraine was registered in the Verkhovna Rada on January 19, 2023.

At the same time, a draft law on strengthening national security in the field of freedom of conscience and the activities of religious organizations, number 8221, was registered in parliament on November 23, 2022, initiated by MP Mykola Kniazhytskyi. It was signed by representatives of various political forces: European Solidarity, Servant of the People, For the Future, Dovira, and Batkivshchyna. However, this document was not put to a vote in the Verkhovna Rada.

According to Mykola Kniazhytskyi, the adoption of the government's bill to ban the UOC (MP) will allow the Russian church to exist for several more years. After all, the government's bill is weak, and it will take years to restrict the activities of the so-called branches of the Russian Orthodox Church.

Meanwhile, a number of criminal proceedings have been opened in Ukraine over the anti-Ukrainian activities of a number of priests of the UOC-MP. In particular, on November 22, 2022, the Security Service of Ukraine conducted counterintelligence activities on the territory of the Holy Dormition Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra in Kyiv, as well as on the territory of the Korets Holy Trinity Monastery and the premises of the Sarny-Polissia Diocese of the UOC. Pro-Russian literature, millions in cash, and suspicious Russians were found on the premises of the UOC-MP.

Also last November, the Security Service conducted counterintelligence operations in the Chernivtsi-Bukovyna Diocese of the UOC (MP) and found manuals from Moscow, Russian citizenship for the leadership, and occupier certificates. The SBU also found propaganda materials denying the existence of Ukraine, as well as chevrons of militants, in the churches of the UOC (MP) in the Ternopil and Prykarpattia regions.

On December 2, 2022, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy introduced personal sanctions against some representatives of religious organizations affiliated with centers of influence in the Russian Federation.

The decision on the sanctions was made by the NSDC at a meeting on December 1 after "reviewing the activities of religious organizations on the territory of Ukraine in the context of Russia's military aggression and to ensure spiritual independence, prevent a split in society on religious grounds, promote the consolidation of Ukrainian society and protect Ukraine's national interests." On December 2, the National Security and Defense Council imposed sanctions on a number of UOC-MP clergy, including the abbot of the Kyiv Cave Monastery, Pavlo (Lebed), and former MP Vadym Novynskyi.

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