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21 Oct. 2023

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Banning the UOC-MP in Ukraine: the bill has been passed, what's next?

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Banning the UOC-MP in Ukraine: the bill has been passed, what's next?

In the first reading, the Verkhovna Rada passed a bill that should begin the process of banning the moscow patriarchate in Ukraine. Find out why the parliament could not vote for the ban for more than 10 months and what will change after the adoption

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On October 19, it became known that the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine finally passed a bill in the first reading to ban the activities of religious communities associated with russia and the moscow patriarchate in particular. 


This decision was voted for by 267 MPs (out of the minimum required 226). At the same time, two MPs abstained, 17 did not vote, and 11 MPs from the Platform for Life and Peace and 3 representatives of the Restoration of Ukraine party voted against.


It is also worth noting that the so-called "mildest" draft law No. 8371 was adopted during the meeting, among other initiatives to ban the UOC, which provides for a difficult and lengthy path to a final ban. However, there is a possibility that harsh amendments will be made to the bill before the second reading.


Why ban the moscow patriarchate in Ukraine?


The fact is that the Ukrainian Orthodox Church until recently belonged to the moscow patriarchate, and since the spring of 2022, the SBU has been actively purging supporters of the "russian world" in religious institutions, because the russian Orthodox Church and its leader, Patriarch Kirill, actively and persistently support russian aggression against Ukraine and the terrorist actions of the russian army. But now the UOC insists that it has no ties to russia.


However, during the SBU's inspections, it found a number of pieces of evidence proving otherwise. In particular, pro-russian literature and documents confirming

– russian citizenship of the leadership of a number of diocesan structures;

– anti-Ukrainian activities of church ministers and calls, in particular, for the "awakening of mother russia";

– justification of russia's armed aggression in Ukraine.


Why did the bill to ban the UOC-MP take almost a year to pass?


Despite the fact that the President of Ukraine personally joined the "fight against the moscow patriarchate," MPs were in no hurry to approve the bill. A number of MPs openly opposed the ban. In addition, the church itself actively opposed the vote, even threatening the Verkhovna Rada with "God's punishment."


It is also important that in the West, a church can only be banned in court, which means that the adoption of the bill could be seen as a "violation of religious rights and freedoms."




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Will the bill really ban the UOC-MP?


The adoption of the "mildest" draft law provides for a long and "gradual" path to a complete ban, and it may take years before the moscow patriarchate is actually "eradicated" from Ukraine.


The complexity of this process lies in the fact that the UOC is a religious organization, not a legal institution, and therefore it is impossible to ban it all in a "judicial procedure." Thus, the process of banning will begin with the fact that the State Service for Ethnic Policy and Freedom of Conscience (SEPFC) must establish the fact of a certain religious organization's involvement with russia, in particular, the presence of a so-called "center" in russia. After that, the service has to issue an order to the church to "correct the situation." And if after that, no changes occur, the SEPFC must file a lawsuit against this legal entity. And a court decision should be made to ban it.


Therefore, in the future, it will be necessary to file separate lawsuits against thousands of individual "units." In particular, the main Kyiv Metropolis, dioceses (more than 50 units) and individual parishes (thousands). The total number of legal entities against which lawsuits are to be filed is about 9,000.


Therefore, the second reading is expected to be held in which more stringent changes may be made to the bill, or its first version may be adopted. However, it is difficult to say when this will happen.


We remind you! russia has been actively trying to turn its Western partners against Ukraine or at least somehow spoil their relations for months. Currently, russia has begun to actively attribute fictitious ties to Hamas to Ukraine. Read more about what new fakes russian propaganda has come up with, why they are completely absurd, and how what is happening shows the opposite in our previous article.


Photo: Getty Images


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