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On March 13, 2019, in Selets village, Dubrovitsa district, Rovno region, Ukraine, the OCU supporters cut locks off the doors of the Church of St. Nicholas of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church.

Although the religious community has all the documents confirming its property right to the building and the land, people were turned out of the church. The vandals, who by their actions desecrated the church, immediately fastened their own locks, not letting the parishioners in and intimidating the rector, Archpriest Nikolai Ivanichko.

As the Information and Education Department of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church reports, citing the Press Service of the diocese, these are not the first unlawful actions committed against the property of the canonical Church’s parishes, in which the local officials are involved.

On March 12, clergymen and laypeople of the Dubrovitsa deanery, Polesye diocese, Ukrainian Orthodox Church, gathered for a prayerful vigil at the district state administration of the city of Dubrovitsa, Rovno region, and expressed their protest against the violation of their constitutional right to the freedom of religion. An unprecedented pressure is being exerted on them to give effect to the forced “transfer” of parishes to the newly-created schismatic structure called “the Orthodox church of Ukraine.” Despite the pressure, the Orthodox Christians in the Polesye region remain faithful to their Church and its Primate. So, there was nothing left do for the authorities but to illegally take away their places of worship. For instance, through personal efforts of the head of the local district state administration, N.M. Petrushko, three churches in Dubrovitsa deanery were closed.

As spokespersons of the diocese note, the local authorities “incite religious enmity in the region and turn a deaf ear to all the appeals of the Orthodox faithful.”

DECR Communication Service