26 Feb 2019 18:14

New Ukrainian church's fears about Donbas ban groundless - DPR authorities

DONETSK. Feb 26 (Interfax) - Head of the new Ukrainian Church, Epiphany Dumenko's, claims that the authorities in the Donetsk people's republic (DPR) intend to ban the Church in its territory looks like an attempt to justify the seizure of the canonical Church's property in Ukraine, the self-proclaimed republic said.

"The Ukrainian media are waging a mass information campaign about the DPR supposedly violating citizens' rights to the freedom of religion. The [campaign] was prompted by the DPR law on the freedom of religion and religious organizations, whereby existing religious organizations had until March 1 to apply for official registration [re-registration] with the culture ministry," Maxim Parshin, head of the DPR People's Council committee for civil society, civic and religious organizations, told Interfax on Tuesday.

The law was published on May 16, 2018, and before it even came into effect the Kyiv Patriarchate had written to international organizations expressing fears about being banned and losing land and property rights, he said.

"Filaret pointed out that the registration requirement 'could not be met because it is a violation of Ukrainian law.' Apparently, the Ukrainian propaganda machine has been commissioned to prepare grounds for subsequent justification of the seizures of the property of the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church," Parshin said.

Neither the DPR nor the self-proclaimed Luhansk people's republic has ever hosted "the so-called OCU [the new Orthodox Church of Ukraine]" and the Kyiv Patriarchate's Ukrainian Orthodox Church is effectively inactive, he said.

"But even churches that have shut down and other property, no one is taking them away from their owners, the owners just need to register themselves, no more. We are giving an opportunity to anyone who wishes to do so to retain their rights and liabilities. And no one has cancelled the normal standard registration for newly opening organizations."