The governing center of the UOC is located in Kiev, and it is impossible to put the spiritual connection with the ROC and other Churches into a legal framework. Bishop Baryshevsky Viktor (Kotsaba) said in an interview to the magazine of the Serbian Patriarchate, according to the Information and Education Department of the UOC.
Bishop Victor noted: “Since 2015, the Ukrainian Orthodox Church has been going through a difficult period of its existence during the time of former President Poroshenko. So we preserve the historically established spiritual connection with the Russian Orthodox Church, they tried to attach a label to us as an enemy, calling our Church and her faithful “the hand of the Kremlin.” However, this does not correspond to reality and is simply absurd, because the control center of the UOC is located in Kiev, and it is impossible to drive the spiritual connection into a legal framework. The parishioners of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church are citizens of Ukraine who have Ukrainian passports, were born and raised in Ukraine, and want to die here. Nevertheless, some media outlets, politicians and officials have worked hard for years to discredit the very confession of Ukraine. This caused an artificial wave of rage in society against the UOC. After some time, the Church found itself under pressure from the authorities.
By the time the OCU was created, there were two structures unrecognized by world Orthodoxy in Ukraine: the UOC-KP and the UAOC. If the second was calm, then the representatives of the first behaved aggressively towards our Church. Already in 2015, about 40 of our churches were taken by force by representatives of the UOC-KP. In 2018, with the direct support of former President Poroshenko and Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, the “Orthodox Church of Ukraine” was formed by combining these two structures. The number of the episcopate of our Church for 2018 amounted to more than 90 bishops, and only two Bishops (one ruling and one vicar) decided to join the “OCU”.
From that moment on, the pressure on the UOC increased noticeably, which manifested itself primarily in the violent seizures of our churches in favor of the newly created structure, whose representatives made loud statements that hundreds of parishes were voluntarily transferring to the OCU. This information was immediately picked up by the media, but it was false. We are keeping real statistics, which speaks of the forceful seizure of 122 churches of the UOC today.
To create a legislative base for such illegal actions, the authorities adopted “necessary” laws, which, in our opinion, are anti-constitutional, and therefore anti-church and anti-people. Referring to one of these laws, the followers of the OCU mistakenly identify a territorial community with a religious one. As a result, the decision to change the confessional subordination of a religious community is made not by its permanent parishioners, but by the inhabitants of the settlement where this church is located.
It doesn’t matter that many of them do not go to church at all, and some are not even Orthodox. For example, if 300 people live in a village, 50 of whom regularly visit the church, and the remaining 250 residents only know about its existence, and at a meeting of the village they decided to transfer the UOC rural church to the OCU, then on the basis of this illegal decision, the authorities state authorities are re-registering. That is, it is not the parish community that decides its fate, but the territorial one. Thus, the above legislative initiatives contribute to the seizure of the religious communities of the UOC”.