Representative of Ukrainian Orthodox Church meets with Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights
On 6 November 2017, Bishop Viktor of Baryshevka, representative of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church to the European Institutions and International Organizations, met with Mr. Nils Raimonds Muižnieks, the Council of Europe Commission for Human Rights in Strasbourg. They were joined at the meeting by Hegumen Philip (Ryabykh), representative of the Moscow Patriarchate to the Council of Europe and the European Union.
Bishop Viktor spoke about violations of the rights of Orthodox believers in Ukraine. He informed Mr. Muižnieks about the recent seizure of a church building of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church in the town of Kolomyia by the radically-minded adherents of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, the seizure of church buildings by the followers of the so called Kievan Patriarchate and threats of seizure. The Commissioner for Human Rights was presented with documents with details of violations of the rights of believers and corroborative photos.
Special attention was paid to the attempts to pass bills Nos. 4128, 4511 and 5309 by the Verkhovna Rada. These bills are explicitly discriminative to the Ukrainian Orthodox Church and are aimed at the interference in the internal affairs of the largest religious organization of the country.
It was noted that since 2015 the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine has been dealing with violations of the rights of believers. Members of the commission repeatedly confirmed the facts of violation of the rights of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, including the seizure of church buildings and improper investigation by the law enforcement agencies of the criminal cases opened on the facts of violation of the rights of believers.
Bishop Viktor mentioned several cases of the failure to comply with the judge of courts at different levels for the Orthodox communities, and the calls of certain Ukrainian politicians and public figures for illegal actions against the Ukrainian Orthodox Church.
Hegumen Philip (Ryabykh) handed over to Mr. Muižnieks the 2016 annual report on the violation of the rights of Orthodox Christians in Europe compiled with support of the Representation of the Russian Orthodox Church in Strasbourg.
The Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights said that he and other officials would carefully examine violation evidence.