On January 31, 2023, the State Service of Ukraine for Ethnopolitics and Freedom of Conscience published the conclusion of the religious examination of the Charter on the governance of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, in which it allegedly “proved” the existence of a church-canonical connection with the Moscow Patriarchate. The head of the legal department of the UOC, Archpriest Alexander Bakhov, in a commentary to the Information and Education Department, called this examination “illegal, conducted in violation of the law and beyond the scope of the subject of his research.”
According to him, “the conclusion of this examination is perplexing for any lawyer, because it was drawn up by people who were chosen to participate in this examination without clear reasons and do not bear any responsibility for their work.”
The head of the Legal Department recalled that an application was submitted to the leadership of the Sovereign Service of Ukraine for Ethnopolitics and Freedom of Society to remove biased experts from the commission for the examination of the Charter of the UOC and to involve international religious scholars in its work.
“The legal department filed an application demanding to clarify the choice of these particular members of the examination and expressed distrust of them, since they repeatedly openly expressed their biased attitude and made openly hostile statements against the believers of the UOC, showing religious intolerance and hostility. The SSUEFC was obliged to ensure the conduct of an objective and impartial religious examination of the Charter on the management of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church,” he stressed.
It is quite obvious, according to Archpriest Alexander, that in the conclusion published on the SSUEFC website, these persons “wishful thinking”.
“The subject of expert research, according to the decision of the National Security and Defense Council, is the church-canonical connection with the Moscow Patriarchate in the Charter on the management of the UOC, and not in the charter and on the website of the ROC,” the lawyer noted. – In connection with the statutory documents, the Ukrainian Orthodox Church is independent and self-sufficient in its management and organization, Its governing bodies – the Cathedral and the Synod – are located in Kyiv. Therefore, this examination is absolutely not relevant to the subject of the study.
The priest called what is happening “interference in the internal affairs of the largest confession in Ukraine, gross manipulation and an attempt to boldly violate the rights to freedom of religion of 12,000 religious organizations and millions of believing citizens of Ukraine. If a decision is made on the basis of this opinion, we will be protected by all legal means, both at the national and international levels.”