10 December 2018

On 9 December 2018, representatives of the Security Service of Ukraine, having no legal grounds and exceeding their official powers, prohibited Metropolitan of Donetsk and Mariupol Hilarion from crossing the line of demarcation at the official checkpoint Novotroitskoye. They prevented him from getting to the Holy Assumption Nikolo-Vasilyevsky Monastery in Nikolskoye village, Volnovakha district of Donetsk region, for making a prayer on the feast of the Icon of the Mother of God “The Sign” on 10 December. His electronic pass was simply annulled by the SSU, and law enforcement officers called "... a special order from Kiev ..." as an explanation of the reasons.

Law enforcement officers act in a surprisingly shortsighted manner in conditions when, in fact, only the UOC remains the last link between the controlled and uncontrolled territories, having parishes and pastoring the flock on both sides of the line of demarcation.

We have to admit that this incident with His Grace Hilarion became just another example among hundreds of other examples of pressure put on the clergy and parishioners of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, which we have been observing with ever-increasing frequency as the date of the so-called Unification Council approaches. For example, just today we learned that law enforcement officers intend to serve a notice of suspicion to Viktor Zemlianoy, Archpriest of the Rovno diocese of the UOC, “for high treason”, which is nonsense.

I can say that President Poroshenko and his entourage chose a clearly illegal path, and they do not even think about how to overcome the schism in the Ukrainian Orthodoxy. All the steps to create the so-called "single local church" are only part of the presidential election campaign. Those in power only tear our country apart even more for the sake of this campaign, thus increasing the degree of intolerance and discord.

Instead of the way of reconciliation and stitching of Ukraine, the way of healing of its wounds, the Presidential team decided to play on the most painful, most dangerous contradictions, risking the remnants of peace between Ukrainians and thus risking the future of Ukraine as such.
Once again, I urge all public officials, especially representatives of the Security Service of Ukraine and the prosecutor’s office, to strictly adhere to the Constitution and laws of Ukraine. The law on the SSU directly prohibits unreasonable restrictions on the rights and freedoms of citizens and provides for liability for such actions. Every officer of the Security Service and the prosecutor's office involved in fabrication of cases and in the persecution of the clergy and parishioners of the UOC will necessarily be brought to account to the fullest extent of the law.

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