Church and War: How Long Will the Ukrainian Church Be in the Occupied Crimea?

The systematic destruction of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Kiev Patriarchate (today the CCU) in Crimea began immediately after the illegal annexation of the peninsula by the Russian Federation. The church and its head, Archbishop Kliment, publicly condemned Russian aggression in the Crimea, participated in the defense of Ukrainian military units during the occupation, and became the sole focus of Ukrainian persistence after 2014. For nearly 6 years of occupation of the Crimea, priests were intimidated and talked about “cooperating” on Russian security services, numerous courts and legal pressure, physical interference and seizure of temples with the theft of church property. Human rights activists and religious scholars are convinced that the Kremlin violates fundamental human rights in the occupied Crimea and valid international instruments protecting them.

Archbishop Clement near the Ukrainian military unit. Photo by A. Kovalsky

Archbishop Clement near the Ukrainian military unit. Photo by A. Kovalsky

In 2014, the Office of the Crimean Diocese of the UOC-KP, in principle, refused to re-register in Crimea under Russian law, the country that illegally annexed the Crimean peninsula. In fact, this refusal led to the persecution of priests and believers of the UOC-KP and the seizure of property of churches that operated and operated in the temporarily occupied territory under the current legislation of Ukraine.

The pressure on the religious community during the years of temporary occupation of the territory of Crimea resulted in a sharp decrease in parishes and priests of the UOC-KP. Before the occupation of the Crimean peninsula, there were 49 religious communities (parishes, missions, fraternities, monasteries), and now there are 7, and of the 23 clergy on the peninsula, only 4 continue their work.

 

CERTIFICATE

provided by the Crimean Diocese of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church KP (PCU)

As of 02/27/2014 As of 01.11.2019
Religious organizations Property Priests Religious organizations Property Priests
 49  27  23  7  14  4

Let us analyze the facts that testify to the oppression of the Ukrainian Church in Crimea

One of the forms of oppression of the UOC-Kyiv Patriarchate in Crimea was the seizure of the premises of the church. Back in 2014, the UOC KP deprived at least two temples in the Crimea. For the last two years, the church has been fighting for the main premises – the Cathedral of Saints Equally Apostolic Prince Vladimir and Olga, as well as for other premises located in Simferopol, at Sevastopol, 17. On May 16, 2001, the premises of the Verkhovna Rada were ruled by the Verkhovna Rada transferred to the Crimean Diocesan Administration of the UOC-KP. Premises with a total area of ​​1475.7 sq.m were donated to the church for free use until 2050.

Since March 2014, occupying Crimean authorities, in violation of international and Ukrainian legislation, began to dispose of state, communal and private property. On April 18, 2014, Vladimir Konstantinov (at the time of the annexation headed the ARC Verkhovna Rada) by Resolution No. 2059-6 / 14 amends the Decree of the Verkhovna Rada of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea of ​​May 16, 2001 No. 1801-2 / 01 “On Transmission to the Crimean Diocesan Administration of the Ukrainian Primate Church of the Kyivan Patriarchate part of the building located on the street. Sevastopol, 17, in the city of Simferopol. Of course, Ukraine did not agree to such changes, and therefore such actions are illegal. This decree is transferred to the Crimean Diocesan Office of the UOC KP all the property of 1475.7 sq.m, on the street. Sevastopolskaya, 17, in Simferopol for rent until 2050, but with the determination of the rate of rent by a certain method of calculation.

01.06. On the 14th, in the village of Perevalne, Simferopol district, the temple of the Intercession of the Blessed Virgin was captured. In May 2017, it became known that the premises where this temple was located were transferred to the UOC of the Moscow Patriarchate.

From June 2014, the Temple of the Apostles Peter and Paul and St. Nicholas the Wonderworker, located in Sevastopol, also ceased to exist. For some time his abbot held worship in his own apartment, but “communication” with the FSB representatives and legislative changes were adopted by the Parliament of the Russian Federation (the so-called “Yarova laws” – 06.07.16 No. 374-FZ “On Amendments to the Federal Law on Counter-Terrorism and separate legislative acts of the Russian Federation regarding the establishment of additional counter-terrorism and public security measures ”and 06.07.16 No. 375-FZ“ On Amendments to the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation and the Criminal Procedure Code osiyskoyi Federation of imposing additional measures to counter terrorism and public safety “, which entered into force on 20 July 2016. Under the new legislative changes preaching, prayer must be carried out only in designated areas. Violation of this provision entails criminal liability) led to the fact that the religious community ceased to exist.  

In 2015, the Ministry of Property and Land Relations of the Republic of Crimea continued to exert pressure on the religious community of the UOC KP, substantially raising the rent for the use of real estate in Simferopol on the street. Sevastopol 17-A, which housed the Crimean Diocesan Administration, the Crimean Orthodox Spiritual Center, and the Cathedral of Saints Equal Apostles Volodymyr and Olga, and began litigation on the eviction of the CPOC.

But the most important “innovation” is the calculation of rent. Crimean authorities have set a rent of 90906,62 rubles per month. Until 2014, the UOC-KP used the premises free of charge. Representatives of the UOC-KP have repeatedly appealed to the Crimean authorities to preserve the old lease conditions (ie free use), since the church cannot pay such money. (More information can be found from the Crimean Human Rights Monitoring Group ( https://crimeahrg.org/en/category/monitor-3/ )

In addition, in May 2015, the so-called Ministry of Property and Land Relations of Crimea organized an auction in the form of an auction for the right to enter into a lease for a part of the premises used by the UOC KP, namely the Crimean Orthodox Spiritual Center. This is a part of this property of 112.6 sq.m on the ground floor of the building at ul. Sevastopol 17, Simferopol. As a result of the auction, the winner was the public non-profit movement promoting small and medium-sized businesses in the Republic of Crimea, “MIND”, which is engaged in business consulting. Thus, representatives of this movement should occupy part of the premises that are in the same building as the UOC KP. Crimean “Ministry” informed the representatives of the UOC KP that on August 21, 2014 the term of lease of part of the premises of 112.6 sq.m on the first floor of the building at the address ul. Sevastopol 17. However, it was reported as early as 2015 – after the auction.

Representatives of the UOC KP appealed to the Arbitration Court of Crimea to annul the decision of the Crimean “ministry” regarding the part of the 112.6 sq. M premises that has been in use by the UOC KP since 2004. However, the Ministry of Property and Land Relations of Crimea filed a counterclaim. In this lawsuit, the “ministry” not only vacates part of the premises of the UOC KP (112.6 sq.m on the ground floor) for transfer to its public non-profit movement “MIND” (CIS), but also to charge a representative of the UOC KP penalty for “unjustified use. property for the period from August 21, 2014 to September 30, 2015 »in the amount of 591128,65 RUB.

On January 21, 2016, the full text of the Arbitration Tribunal’s decision (on 16 sheets) was published. The court left all the claims of the representatives of the UOC KP without satisfaction, but the court satisfied the counterclaim of the “Crimean Ministry”. As a result, Judge I.A. Sokolova obliged not only to vacate the premises of 112.6 sq.m on the ground floor of the building at ul. Sevastopol 17, the city of Simferopol, but also to recover from the Crimean Orthodox Spiritual Center a penalty in the amount of 591128,65 rubles. In addition, the court decided to recover from the Center in the “revenue of the federal budget” legal costs for the counter-claim in the amount of 16383 rubles.

“Such material sanctions and attempts to remove part of the premises of the UOC KP are a serious threat to the existence of the church in Crimea. In addition, if part of the premises (in the area of ​​112.6 sq.m) is occupied by the UNM “MIND”, then business consultants will be constantly passing through the premises of the Council. In addition, it is these square meters that focus all the communal communications of the building itself , ”said Archbishop Clement.

In 2016, the Crimean Diocesan Administration of the UOC KP, by decision of the Arbitration Court of the Republic of Crimea, deprived parts of its premises in the center of Simferopol. 14.07. 16 The Court of Appeal of Sevastopol ordered the Crimean Diocese of the UOC-KP to pay to the Ministry of Property and Land Relations of the Republic of Crimea half a million rubles and free up 112 square meters. m on the ground floor of the Cathedral in Simferopol.

On November 8, 2016, representatives of the Crimean Property Fund tried to seal the first floor of the Cathedral of Saints Equal Apostles Vladimir and Olga of the UOC-KP. The Archbishop of Simferopol and Crimean UOC of KP Kliment called on the world community to protect the national, cultural and religious rights of the citizens of Ukraine in Crimea.

August 31, 2017 Russian security forces blocked the cathedral in the city of Simferopol, bailiffs illegally seized church property from the church – crosses, icons, church utensils. During the penetration of the bailiffs, the Archbishop of Simferopol and the Crimean UOC of the KP Clement received bodily injuries. The complaint about the actions of the bailiffs was directed to the local “police”, who did not find the crime in their actions, the appeal in court was unsuccessful.

On February 5, 19, a letter from the Ministry of Property and Land Relations of the Crimea was sent to the UOC KP in Simferopol on the early termination of the lease agreement on the premises where the Cathedral of Saints Equal Apostles of Vladimir and Olga is located. The reason for the eviction was the lack of re-registration of the religious community in accordance with the requirements of the legislation of the Russian Federation. In a letter, the occupying authorities demand that the archbishop of Simferopol and Crimean Ukrainian Orthodox Church (CCU) Clement sign a 20-day agreement to terminate the lease early and vacate the building within the next 10 days. A month later, at the bus station in Simferopol, Russian security officers detained Archbishop Kliment – he planned to go to Rostov-on-Don to the Ukrainian political prisoner Pavel Grib for religious ceremonies (confession, communion). He was detained in two police stations for more than 6 hours and released.

In March 2019, the Ministry of Property Relations of the Republic of Crimea filed a lawsuit against the early termination of the lease for the premises in Simferopol, which houses the Cathedral of Saints Equal Apostles Vladimir and Olga. The basis is called a debt of 2.95 UAH. and a fine of UAH 5, 24, which allegedly arose from 2016. Bishop Clement claims that there is no debt and there are payment documents on it.

Also in March, it became known that illegal construction work began on the land that was allocated to the Crimean Diocese of the UOC-KP in 2013 for the construction of the Cathedral in the name of Christ the Savior of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Kyiv Patriarchate. The plot is located on Kyivska Street in Simferopol. Now there are works on geodesy, machinery, imported construction materials. works were begun on the construction of the temple – but which, it is not known, was previously claimed by the FSB of the Russian Federation for this land.

” In 2015, I received a letter from the occupation administration of Simferopol stating : ” I request in accordance with the Land Code of the Russian Federation to transfer the right to use the land by voluntarily waiving the right of permanent use of the land provided for the construction of the cathedral in order to provide the appropriate the land plot of the UFSB of Russia on the Republic of Crimea and the cities of Sevastopol for the construction of apartment buildings, ”Kliment told the media.

03/29/19 The occupation “power of the Republic of Crimea” has filed a lawsuit demanding to vacate the building in the center of Simferopol, which is now occupied by the new Ukrainian church structure – the Orthodox Church of Ukraine (PCU), as it is in “state ownership”. The decision of the occupying power also justifies the fact that the religious organization has not yet registered, and therefore is outside the legal field of the Russian Federation.

April 23, 2019 in order to preserve the religious community Archbishop of Simferopol and Crimea, it was decided to register a separate religious organization called “Ukrainian Orthodox Parish of Saints Equally Apostolic Prince Vladimir and Princess Olga” in accordance with Russian law, but the so-called “Ministry of Justice” at the registration of a church parish in the city of Simferopol.

In June, a Moscow-controlled “court” in the Crimea decided to select from the Crimean Diocese of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine its main temple, the Cathedral of Saints Equally Apostolic Prince Vladimir and Princess Olga in Simferopol, whose diocesan administration also works. According to the decision of the “court” the building should be transferred for use to the so-called “Ministry of Property and Land Relations”, the Crimean Diocese of the CCU also has to pay court fees in the amount of 12 thousand rubles (now it is almost 5 thousand hryvnias). The following month, church property was stolen from the Cathedral of Saints Equally Apostolic Prince Vladimir and Princess Olga of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (CCU) in Simferopol. A few weeks earlier, without the knowledge of the Crimean Diocese of the PCU, the builders dismantled the roof, which led to the flooding of the church premises and property damage, installed a fence around the building, pulled out windows and doors. All these “repair” works are carried out at the direction of the occupying power, namely the so-called “Ministry of Property and Land Relations of the Republic of Crimea”.

The Crimean Diocese of the PCU appealed to the court of the Russian Federation with a cassation appeal against the decision of the Crimean “court” concerning the seizure of property from the religious community and its transfer to the so-called “Ministry of Property Relations of the Republic of Crimea”. Since September 2019, the Court of Arbitration of the Central District of Kaluga has begun a cassation appeal. On November 14, 2019, the Court of Arbitration of the Central District of Kaluga dismissed the cassation appeal of the Office of the Crimean Diocese of the PCU, the clergy were obliged to vacate the premises of the Cathedral in Simferopol within 5 days.

In August, more than fifty Crimean Parishioners of the Cathedral of Equal Apostles Prince Vladimir and Olga of the Crimean Diocese of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (UOC) (Simferopol, Crimea, Ukraine) wrote an appeal to the UN Human Rights Committee, which outlined information about harassment and abuse on religion. 09/09/2019 The UN Human Rights Committee has asked the Russian Federation: “Not to evict the community from the temple in Simferopol”. 09/20/2019 The UN Committee on Human Rights has again demanded that the Russian Federation refrain from evicting the Orthodox Church of Ukraine from the Cathedral of St. Equal Apostles Prince Volodymyr and Princess Olga in Simferopol. The Crimean authorities claim that they did not receive UN recommendations on the PCU temple in Simferopol.

11/06/2019 The so-called “Evpatoria City Court” (judge – Lobanova GB) made a decision in absentia on the demolition of the temple of the Crimean Eparchy of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (PCU) in Evpatoria. At the same time, the decision stated that the dismantling of a religious building should be carried out by the congregation of the same temple.

Summons

Summons

documents from the social network of the spokesman of the CCU Evstratii Zori

documents from the social network of the spokesman of the CCU Evstratii Zori

https://www.facebook.com/yevstr/posts/2533524126695856

On December 7, it became known that the premises of the Cathedral of Saints Equally Apostolic Vladimir and Olga in Crimean Simferopol were robbed. This was reported by the Archbishop of the CCU Clement.

“When I was not in Crimea, repair workers robbed us. The theft happened on the second floor. Doors, old wooden, under the guise of repair, new ones were illegally broken. Radio equipment was stolen from the second floor. This morning, I declared a scrapman to get my equipment back. He sent me, ”said Clement.

Throughout the years of occupation, every time harassment, assault, robbery, courts concerning the UOC, Archbishop Kliment informed the Ukrainian authorities, presidents, the public in writing (appeals), held personal meetings and held numerous press conferences. We directed appeals to Ukrainian officials from the newspaper “Crimean Svitlytsia” and asked them 5 questions, in order to better understand what they had accomplished or did not accomplish within their mandates in less than 6 years.

  1. What measures are being taken by the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine to protect the parishioners, believers and priests of the Crimean Diocese of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine (Ukrainian Orthodox Church)?
  2. What normative legal acts were initiated by the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine on the protection of the rights of religious communities engaged in church activity in the temporarily occupied territory of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and Sevastopol?
  3. Why the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine did not approve amendments to the Draft CMU Resolution No. 143 of 31 January 1996 “On the transfer of immovable property of the military towns liberated by the Black Sea Fleet into the property of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and into the property of Sevastopol” and the Resolution No to transfer free of charge the property of the Office of the Crimean Diocese of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Kiev Patriarchate to building # 1 of the military town № 119, located on the street. Sevastopolskaya, 17, apt. № 548 in Simferopol, Autonomous Republic of Crimea », the proposals of which were proposed and sent by the Representation of the President of Ukraine to the Autonomous Republic of Crimea to resolve the issue of protecting the existence of the Crimean Diocese of the UOC KP (now the Crimean Diocese of the UOC (UOC) in the Occupied Territory? Letters from the Presidential Delegation to the Autonomous Republic of Crimea, No. 01/354 / 01-08 of July 14, 2015, addressed to the Government Commissioner for European Court of Human Rights, No. 01/281 / 01-08 of May 29, 2015 to resolve this issue year to the Vice Prime Minister – the Minister of Culture of Ukraine , No. 01/199 / 01-08 of April 29, 2016 to the Prime Minister of Ukraine.) In addition, in 2018, the President of Ukraine was instructed to do so by the Cabinet Ministers of Ukraine (Letter to the President of Ukraine Archbishop of Simferopol and Crimean CLIMENT dated May 19, 2018 under No. 01 / 02-08).
  4. Were there any appeals from the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine to law enforcement agencies regarding the protection of the state premises located on the street. Sevastopolskaya, 17, in Simferopol, Autonomous Republic of Crimea, leased to the Crimean Diocese of the UOC-KP (now the Crimean Diocese of the UCC), due to the capture by its Russian so-called authorities of the Republic of Crimea and so-called occupation decisions the courts of the Russian Federation?
  5. How are the issues of protection of the rights of believers and the protection of the state premises rented by the Crimean Diocese of the UOC-KP (now the Crimean Diocese of the UCC) in the city of Simferopol of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea to be resolved?

Extracts from the documents are given below:

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine emphasized that on December 22, 2018, the UN General Assembly approved a resolution on the Crimean issue 73/263 on the Human Rights Situation in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea, Sevastopol (Ukraine), condemning the pressure exerted on religious communities, in particular, representatives of the UOC-KP and representatives of other denominations.

Also, the situation with the destruction of the temples was brought to the attention of Washington, in July 2019, during the Second Ministerial Meeting on Promotion of Religious Freedom and in November this year at the OSCE Permanent Council.

Document of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine

Document of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine

Document of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine

Document of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine

 

The Ministry of Culture of Ukraine stressed that today, in the current legislation there are no mechanisms for the transfer of part of the property complex on the street. Sevastopol is owned by the PCU, and the Ministry of Culture has no opportunity to resolve this issue on its own. However, in the end, officials propose to draft a “special political solution” that will allow the resolution of the transfer of property. The question naturally arises: “Why, after almost 6 years of annexation of Crimea, is there no such” political decision “yet?”

Document of the Ministry of Culture of Ukraine

Document of the Ministry of Culture of Ukraine

The Ministry of Development of Economy, Trade and Agriculture of Ukraine noted that there is no legislation on making decisions on the disposal of property belonging to the Autonomous Republic of Crimea.

Document of the Ministry of Economic Development, Trade and Agriculture of Ukraine

Document of the Ministry of Economic Development, Trade and Agriculture of Ukraine

 

The Ministry for Temporarily Occupied Territories and Internally Displaced Persons of Ukraine said in a letter that since the Verkhovna Rada of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea ceased to exist, it is impossible to amend the Cabinet resolution.

Document of the Ministry for the Occupied Territories and Internally Displaced Persons of Ukraine

Document of the Ministry for the Occupied Territories and Internally Displaced Persons of Ukraine

The Ministry of Justice emphasized that the European Court of Human Rights has 5 interstate cases against Russia. And in one case, complaints were made regarding the persecution and harassment of religious organizations in the Crimea.

Document of the Ministry of Justice

Document of the Ministry of Justice

And finally, the response from the Department of Documentation of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Ukraine , which reports that from 2014 to 2019 letters from the CMU on the protection of state premises located in Simferopol, at the street. Sevastopolskaya, 17 (Cathedral of Saints Equally Apostolic Prince Vladimir and Olga) were not received (!) And were not recorded (!). That is, facts of persecution of religious communities, seizure of church property, seizure of temples are not recorded, and no one will be held responsible for it?

Document of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Ukraine

Document of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Ukraine

Also revealing is the fact that in their answers the officials ignored the last question “How is it planned to resolve the issue of protection of the rights of believers and the protection of the state premises rented by the Crimean Diocese of the UOC KP (now the Crimean Diocese of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (UOC) in Simferopol? “This indicates that there are no plans to protect the Ukrainian church in the annexed Crimea and that the church does not have ownership of the church. It also means that Archbishop Kliment and the parishioners of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church are left alone a pressurized Russian (read Soviet) car in Crimea.

There is no doubt that the persecution of religious communities will continue and additional systems of control and pressure will be put in place, since Russia, as an occupying power, will always squeeze and squeeze / destroy “those who disagree” with its policies, especially if property could be seized. Defending and protecting the church and property is a kind of maturity test for the Ukrainian authorities. But will she pass it with dignity?

  The material was prepared by Elena Halimon