(Daily360.com) – A new controversial situation is brewing in Ukraine, as their parliament has given early approval to a law that would ban the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (UOC) for alleged ties to Moscow. Authorities in Kiev are saying the church has been collaborating with Russian entities since last year’s invasion.
The UOC denies the allegations and has stated they were once aligned with the Russian Orthodox Church but have not been for some time. They say they are not collaborating with Russia in any way and implementation of this law would be unconstitutional. The say the law would also not be in compliance with the European convention on human rights.
Ukrainian Parliament member Yaroslav Zheleznyak, posted to his Telegram account that the bill was supported in its first reading. It will need to be approved in a second reading, after which it would make its way to the president for approval and then become law. Ukrainian law maker Iryna Herashchenko said that the law, if it is passed, would be a historic piece of legislation and the mechanism through which they could force the removal of “Moscow priests” from Ukraine.
A large number of Ukrainian citizens believe the UOC to be loyal to Russia and not to Ukraine. A government commission concurred, alleging that despite their denials, the church is still working with the Russian Orthodox Church. UOC’s senior priest, Metropolitan Pavlo, was notified that the government suspects him of instigating religious divisions on behalf of Russian interests. Pavlo denies the government’s accusations.
So far 68 criminal cases, some of which include treason charges, have been brought against members of the UOC since the war began. Some experts believe that should the law pass, the UOC would most likely continue to operate while bringing court cases both in Ukraine and with the European court of human rights. They would also likely have the option of re-registering as a new entity to begin operations again.
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