Rivne. Propaganda during religious sermons in Rivne churches influences the electoral preferences of voters.
According to the words of Mykola Grishchenko, the head of the Rivne branch of the Voters committee of Ukraine, parishioners of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (Moscow patriarchy) tell that priests advice them for whom they have to vote and for whom they must not vote. The priests say that, after the victory of one of candidates, the head of the oblast would be appointed, who will take away all churches from the UOC (Moscow patriarchy) and will pass them to UOC (Kyiv patriarchy). The voters assert that such interpretation of the problem by priests changes their attitude to the candidate, whom they supported at the previous election.
Mykola Grishchenko thinks that “the influence of such “clerical factor” on expression of the will of voters is very important, since, according to all sociological polls, the church occupies the first place by the level of trust of population”. Mr. Grishchenko added that he doubted “whether the church would be able to retain such position for a long time, if it has joined in politics, which, as it is widely known, is one of dirtiest occupations of mankind”.
It seems that the priests have forgotten about their real tasks, and those, who instigate them to these actions, have not read law at all, since part 8 of Article 5 of the Law of Ukraine “On freedom of consciousness and religious organizations” reads that religious organizations have no right to take part in the activities of political parties and to carry out agitation. Any Ukrainian Church and any religious organization may not participate in election process and the political life of the country as a whole. Involvement of Church into the election process is inadmissible, because it contradicts the constitutional principle of separation of church and religious organizations from the state (part 3 of Article 35 of the Constitution of Ukraine). Church is not a political organization and it must not be engaged in election campaigns.