Pravy Sektor raids churches and beats up parishioners as churches are violently turned over to Ukrainian Patriarchate
|Screen shot from video at site|
September 23, 2015
September 24, 2015
Translated from Russian by Tom Winter
A church belonging to the Moscow Patriarchate is now being blockaded by men in masks. Though this is the most recent occurrence, it is not the first time.
Emotions were running high as parishioners tryed to get to their church, which is surrounded by people in camo uniforms with the Pravy Sektor insignia, an extremist organization banned in Russia. This is going on in the village of Ternopil, of the Konstantinovka region. Police – as usual in conflicts involving radicals – are not stopping them. This episode came to a brawl.
In the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate, they are calling it a raid to take over the church. But they are especially angered by the fact that radicals openly acted with the regional administration, and later they began to help them, as law enforcement officers blocked the entrance to the church.
“Sadly, it wasn’t just representatives, supporters of the Kiev Patriarchate, but also the police, the right sector and even as we speak, representatives of the battalion “Ternopil” were barring the way. In the melee, 15 people have been beaten, two of them are still hospitalized with serious injuries,” said the managing director of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate, Metropolitan Anthony.
According to Metropolitan Anthony, the victims do not see the point of it all, and are afraid to go to the police because nationalists from the Pravy Sektor threaten them, go to their homes, even rap on their windows. Onufry, the Metropolitan of Kiev, has written a letter to the head of state Peter Poroshenko, with a request to intervene with the situation in Ternopil region and to prevent this in other Ukrainian regions.
“In a letter to Pyotr Poroshenko his Beatitude emphasized the inadmissibility of violence in settling religious conflicts, as well as the involvement of radical forces in these conflicts,” it says on the website of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church.
According to representatives of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church Moscow Patriarchate, 30 churches were taken over in just the last year, mostly in the West. Radicals take them and turn them over for the use of the priests of the Kiev Patriarchate.
So it was in the village Kolosovo, despite the fact that the parishioners of the Moscow Patriarchate went to court to protect their right to their church. And in one of the parks in the very center of Kiev Patriarchate, a priest, with the support of people in camouflage uniforms, insisted on tearing down the icon rack.
“All of these inappropriate actions go beyond anything reasonable. This, that is going on, is utter lawlesness. And what’s more, finally, the regime is contributing to it”, said Viktor Chernshev, head of the information-education center “Hope”.
Takeovers of temples of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, Moscow Patriarchate, began almost immediately after the Maidan. Radicals threatened the priests, accusing them of having links with the Antimaidan. The Prosecutor’s Office on the basis of these charges has opened proceedings, but many clergymen, fearing for their safety and the safety of their family members, have left Ukraine.
According to the church leadership they have repeatedly spoken to the president and the prime minister about the pressure on priests and raids on their churches. But there is no reaction.