As the ceasefire in Eastern Ukraine is still more or less holding and military tensions appear to be somewhat subsiding, another conflict appears to be growing in Western Ukraine.
This is, to a very large degree, due to the Ukrainian government and local governments using various religious pretexts to persecute some citizens.
In the town of Zolochiv, in the Lviv region, the mayor, deputies and representatives of the government-backed Orthodox Church of Ukraine (OCU) and the Uniates are attempting to persecute the priest and the local community of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (Moscow Partriarchy), trying to expel believers from the city.
The mayor and co. have stated that there would be no Ukrainian Orthodox Church (Moscow Partriarchy) in their city. And all of this is blamed on Moscow, somehow.
Igor Grynkiv, mayor of Zolochiv said the following:
“Muscovites are trying to build a temple. This will not happen. I call on the public of the city, deputies of all levels, the clergy to joint coordinated actions to oppose the Moscow Church … Only together we will not let the Moscow Church into Zolochev … In Zolochev there has never been and will never be a church of the Moscow Patriarchate …
It is necessary for everyone to gather here and say their categorical “no” to the Church of the Moscow Patriarchate …
The authorities, the public, the church – all of them should gather.
Saying “no” to the Church of the Moscow Patriarchate … This is a question for all of us: the Zolochiv district, the district council, the district administration, each village council, because someone lives in Zolochiv, and someone lives in the adjacent villages …
We know how to show character, and we will never tolerate the churches of the Moscow Patriarchate here …
We will not bargain for politics, we will not use this as PR for the upcoming elections, but we will all just gather here and tell these people: “Get out of here”!
This specifically relates to people who have lived in the region their entire lives and have refused to acknowledge the newly-established government-backed OCU.
It all started with the fact that the family of the priest of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (Moscow Partriarchy), Maxim Yoenko ,bought a dilapidated house with several hundred square meters of land in Zolochiv, and began to repair it.
And since the house was small, he and his family received the necessary permits and began to expand it.
“There was no Ukrainian Orthodox Church community in this city, the Orthodox Christians of Zolochev were forced to travel to services either in Ternopil or in neighboring Brody.”
And as soon as a priest appeared, a community of Zolotovites and residents of neighboring villages immediately gathered around him. They began to serve in a construction trailer on the private territory of the priest’s family.
Having learned about the services, representatives of the government-backed pseudo-church OCU and the Greek Catholic Church came to the mayor of Zolochiv, Igor Grynkiv, and demanded that the authorities remove the Orthodox community from Zolochiv.
They claimed that the presence of the canonic church in the city is a betrayal of the state, called the believers rats and suggested that they should go live in Moscow. This happened despite the fact that most of Ukrainian citizens are believers of the canonic Ukrainian Orthodox Church (Moscow Partriarchy).
Therefore, Ukrainian citizens appear to be have no more freedom of religious expression, in any way.
On July 10th, the Zolochiv City Council gathered for an extraordinary meeting for the sole reason – to decide how to expel the UOC from the city.
To give their actions the appearance of at least some kind of legality, the mayor and the deputies declare that the priest is not just repairing and expanding his house, but allegedly building a church on his territory, which is illegal.
No church was being built; it was just a pretext.
Miroslava Babinskaya, deputy of the Lviv regional council:
“We must expel them. They will not leave themselves.”
The deputies appealed to the governor of the Lviv region, with a demand “that a church of the Moscow Patriarchate should not be built in Zolochiv.”
A couple of days later, the governor supported the deputies, saying that it was “immoral” to build churches of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (Moscow Partriarchy) in the Lviv region.
Finally, the deputies appealed to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to entirely ban the activities of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (Moscow Partriarchy) throughout the country.
On July 13th, the fence of the priest’s house and the trailer where the services are held were painted by unknown persons with offensive inscriptions, Nazi symbols and covered with red paint.
And on July 14th, the authorities gathered their entire posse at the priest’s house to stir up some more controversy.
The mayor even offered Father Maxim to buy out his house for municipal money so that he would leave.
Igor Grynkiv, mayor of Zolochiv said:
“Let’s pay them, let them go. We will reimburse them for the land, for the house. Let them take their wagon and go to their Pochaev and leave us alone. “
The priest was given the word and he explained that no church was being built, and he received a response saying that it didn’t matter, it was illegal anyway.
In short, the mayor of Zolichiv, deputies, and communities of the OCU and Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church and nationalist radicals want to expel the Priest and the believers.
The Ukrainian Orthodox Church (Moscow Partriarchy) community in Zolochiv, although not registered, but quite legally gathers and prays in private territory. And according to the law, and no one should be able to interfere with this.
All repair and construction work on the priest’s site are completely legal and has all the permits.
No construction of a temple, as deputies and nationalists constantly repeat, is underway. Believers conduct services in a trailer.
The Ukrainian Orthodox Church (Moscow Partriarchy) community in Zolochiv does not bother anyone, does not ask or demand anything from anyone, but only silently prays in a closed private territory.
None of this appears acceptable for the post-2014 coup Ukraine.
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