24 January 2017

I am in Strasbourg at the session of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE).

We have prepared a report on the unsound situation surrounding the Ukrainian church.

The Government's persistent interference in the affairs of the Church including attempts by politicians to outlaw the largest religious confession (the Ukrainian Orthodox Church), the constant attacks on bishops, the submission of draft laws discriminating against the Ukrainian Orthodox Church to the Verkhovna Rada – this is the contemporary reality in Ukraine.

This kind of interference, along with openly anti-Orthodox rhetoric, has led to disastrous consequences: 44 attempts to seize Ukrainian Orthodox Churches have been made and six priests have been killed. None of these crimes has been properly investigated.

My report is an attempt to communicate information about the real situation in Ukraine, in order to prevent the threat of a religious war in the centre of Europe.

In addition, it is necessary to raise the alarm about the new language initiative from Ukrainian Deputies. This was one of the key issues during the exchange of views and information with my European colleagues, Assembly delegates.

As I understand it, these are populist, pre-election parliamentary initiatives by the Kiev Government, aimed at attacking the residents of the East and the South of Ukraine who form the majority of the urban population of Ukraine. Russian has always been their native language and the language of communication with friends and family.

What Deputies are offering brings neither normal dialogue between the regions nor a return to peace. Instead of searching for a formula to unite the country, discord and division are being encouraged, leading to a sharply divided public.

Ukraine needs unity more than ever, not in words, but in deeds. Ukraine needs PEACE, in all our hearts and minds. Only then we will have a future.

I think that now, more than ever, we need European support in matters of achieving peace in Ukraine and searching for national reconciliation and unity. 


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