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    ROCinU says rally outside President’s Office, Parliament “for the sake of religious peace,” against Bartholomew

    The branch of the Moscow Patriarchate in Ukraine has named yet another reason for their recent rally outside the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine and the President’s Office. As explained in the ROCinU’s press service, besides discontent over the upcoming visit of Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew and the law on the standardization of ROCinU’s current title, they claim they are also concerned about “religious peace” in Ukraine. That is why they brought their followers from various regions of Ukraine to Kyiv to rally outside the Verkhovna Rada.

    “Dear Volodymyr Oleksandrovych (Zelensky – ed.), the faithful of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (ROCinU – ed.) have come to you, it’s the people who have voted for you to become President of Ukraine,” Archbishop Mykolay addressed the president. “We had high hopes for you. First of all, we wanted peace in Ukraine.”

    The faithful of the Moscow Patriarchate asked the president to recall his invitation to Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew. In their opinion, the latter’s visit on the 30th anniversary of Ukraine’s Independence will “shake peace.”

    “We ask you to withdraw the invitation to Patriarch Bartholomew – he is not the head of our Church, he is not even an official representative of the state he is coming from, he has not brought peace and unity to the Ukrainian Orthodox community. For the sake of peace in Ukraine, for the sake of religious peace, we ask you! We pray for our Ukrainian state, for our Church and we give our lives for peace in Ukraine, we hope that you will hear us out,” added Mykolay, Bishop of the Russian Orthodox Church in Ukraine.

    ROCinU / Rally in Kyiv

    It should be recalled that two years ago, Ukrainian authorities tried to address the issue of historical justice and mandate the renaming of Moscow’s Church in Ukraine to indicate in its new title its true subordination to the headquarters in Russia.

    On December 20, 2018, the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine adopted Law “On Amendments to Law of Ukraine On Freedom of Conscience and Religious Organizations regarding the titles of religious organizations that are part of the structure or are part of a religious organization (association) based beyond Ukraine in a state that is recognized by law as having committed military aggression against Ukraine and/or temporarily occupied part of Ukraine’s territory.”

    On December 26, 2018, the law came into force, stipulating that a religious organization whose headquarters are located in the territory of the aggressor power shall reveal such affiliation in its title. However, clerics of Moscow’s church then claimed “persecution” and went to court. The District Administrative Court of Kyiv. He made a decision in their favor.

    ROCinU/ Rally in Kyiv

    According to the relevant law, the so-called UOC-MP must indicate its affiliation with the Moscow Patriarchate, otherwise its registration will be annulled.

    It should be emphasized that the governing body of the so-called UOC-MP, as seen from its charter, is located in Moscow, and the clergy of the ROC in Ukraine must comply with the decisions of the Local and Bishops’ Councils of the Moscow Patriarchate.

    Before the Russian-Ukrainian war started, the top leadership of ROCinU never hesitated to use the prefix “Moscow Patriarchate” in official documents and on websites, as well as on plaques on church facades. In the occupied territories, the plaques remained unchanged (UOC-MP), or the name “UOC” was lost out altogether and “Moscow Patriarchate” remained. Meanwhile, in the non-occupied territory of Ukraine the prefix “MP” (Moscow Patriarchate) started to be gradually removed.

    ROCinU Rally outside VRU

    In late 2020, the head of the State Service of Ukraine for Ethnopolitics and Freedom of Conscience, Olena Bohdan, stated that the move to recall the renaming of the UOC-MP to the Russian Orthodox Church in Ukraine would hurt many survivors of war.

    Religious scholar Viktor Yelensky also said that Russia uses the UOC-MP to dismantle Ukrainian statehood. In another comment, he added that legislation on renaming ROCinU is fully in line with international law.

    In turn, the spokesman for ROCinU branded the law on renaming the UOC-MP a threat to the unity of Ukraine.

    The hieromonk who joined the OCU called the UOC-MP an assembly of ROC dioceses in Ukraine.

    Religious expert Oleksandr Yefremenko said ROCinU is the same ROC, but under a different “brand” operating in Ukraine.

    On June 15, ROCinU believers and members of the Myriany (Laymen) NGO rallied outside the President’s Office to complain about bills to standardize the ROCinU’s name. The event was covered by a pro-Russian outlet Strana.ua, as well as Russian intelligence agents working in the media domain.

    According to religious expert Oleksandr Yefremenko, the political rally was in fact organized by the ministers of ROCinU – bishops and priests – rather than the NGO that was used as a front organization.

    “Standardization of the name will show ordinary people that this is not the Ukrainian Church, but a branch of the Russian Church of the Moscow Patriarchate. That is why the Myriany  of ROCinU decided to rally outside the Verkhovna Rada,” wrote the founder of the Spiritual Front of Ukraine, Oleksandr Yefremenko.

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