war crimes in Ukraine

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Human rights in Ukraine – 2006. VI. Freedom of thought, conscience and religion



1.   Overview

No fundamental changes took place in 2006 with regard to freedom of conscience and religion, with legislative regulation and administrative practice remaining virtually unchanged. For this reason, the information, together with the conclusions and recommendations made in the reports “Human Rights in Ukraine” for 2004 and 2005[2] remain relevant today.

Number of religious organizations in Ukraine[3]











Registered religious organizations










Unregistered religious organizations that have provided notification of their activities




















The most controversial norms of the Law “On freedom of conscience and religious organizations” have remained unchanged which led to and indeed continues to provoke numerous complaints, and is frequently a source of conflict.  .  Problems arise over, for example, religious groups having a single structure forced upon them, places of worship needing to be shared by two or more religious organizations, limitations on the rights of foreign nationals, a permission-based system for holding religious gatherings, restrictions on certain types of activities religious organizations may engage in, etc.

Ukrainian legislation continues to seriously restrict freedom of religion for foreign nationals and stateless individuals. This is manifested in the fact that they cannot found organizations or engage in preaching or other religious activity. These restrictions, moreover, affect people who are permanently resident in Ukraine

  Throughout 2006 the local authorities acted in breach of Article 39 of the Constitution by continuing to illegally limit the right to religious gatherings by demanding that permission be obtained to hold them.

  Problems remain with exercising the right to alternative military service on the grounds of religious or other convictions.

  Among obstructions which religious organizations, as well as individuals, most often encounter in exercising their right to freedom of conscience, one can identify the following:

1)  obstacles to registration of a legal entity;

2)  difficulties over receiving land for building places of worship, or the return of religious organizations’ property expropriated in Soviet times;

3) obstruction of religious activities, public events, the carrying out of social service, in inviting missionaries from abroad, etc.


2.   Government policy on freedom of conscience and religion

Having proclaimed the separation of Church and State, Ukraine has yet to become a secular state in the classic sense. This is first and foremost to be explained by the traditionally strong influence of religious institutions in Ukrainian society, specific features of the national mentality, as well as the historical role of religion in the life of the Ukrainian people. While, according to various sociological surveys, the leaders of the country do not inspire public trust, the Church consistently holds first place in confidence ratings.  This difference has on a number of occasions prompted government officials to try to take religious life under their control. One cannot fail to note that the traditions of the State Orthodox Church have remained strong from Tsarist, and in some sense, from Soviet times. This is in places seen in one Church receiving preferential treatment over others and in a political approach to the Church as a part of State ideology.

In 2005, following the Orange Revolution, the new regime carried out a number of measures which were supposed to change State – religious relations, make them more democratic and transparent.  In the first instance this involved another kind of relations – more based on partnership and equal, as well as a reduction in State control over religious organizations by abolishing the State Committee on Religious Affairs and creating a less weighty State Department.

In responses to the President’s call, inter-denominational councils under the heads of regional state administrations were indeed formed in all regions. Many of them have enabled more open communication between spiritual leaders and the regional administration. On the other hand, within the framework of his policy for uniting the country, the President has on many occasions stressed the need for Orthodox believers to unite in a single Local Ukrainian Orthodox Church. This has not received unequivocal support among believers of different Churches or from secular experts.

During 2006 relations between the State and different faiths underwent certain changes. In the first quarter of 2006 the development of events was to a large extent determined by the parliamentary elections. The outcome of the elections already brought about changes in the government’s religious policy. This was in the first instance felt in certain regions, namely eastern and southern regions where the Party of the Regions gained convincing victories in the local elections. There the process began of reinstating the State –religious relations in the form existing up till 2005.  In isolated cases religious organizations also attempted to influence choice of personnel at the local level.

Despite certain political crises, there was no division in the policy of the higher echelons of power in 2005. In 2006, however, one could already observe certain differences of opinion in this area between President Yushchenko and representatives of the anti-Crisis coalition.

Viktor Yushchenko’s policy can be encapsulated in two principles: 1) real equality in treatment of the various Churches and religious organizations, an interest in cooperating with them and attempt to resolve their problems, etc; 2) particular focus on the formation of a single Local Ukrainian Orthodox Church as a way of uniting Ukrainian society, bearing in mind the specific influence of the Orthodox Churches in Ukraine. In this the President did not divide religious organizations into “own” and “other”, and did not favour any particular denomination. However over recent times he is more and more often to be seen at religious events with the participation of the leaders of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church under the Kyiv Patriarchate [UOC (KP)]. The Head of the President’s Secretariat V. Baloha has stated that one of Viktor Yushchenko’s priorities is ensuring freedom of religion.  The President stresses: “We can go to different churches, look at different icons and have different political views however national values and interests should unite all Ukrainians”.

  As mentioned, at the focus of the President’s attention has been the issue of unification of Orthodox believers into a single Local Ukrainian Orthodox Church.  The Head of State includes this among matters of national security – as a means of uniting Ukrainian society and as protection against external ideological influences.

  “I would like to stress that when we speak of political understanding,  this also involves a Local Church”, Viktor Yushchenko said in an address to the World Forum of Ukrainians in August 2006 – “I find it hard to understand how you can talk about spiritual independence of the nation without a Local Church. However I would like to give a very careful answer so that my phrases pulled out of context are not on the pages of opposition papers by evening claiming that the President is trying to lead people to some particular Church. I would like to say that I will respect each person’s choice and spiritual path. However speaking from a national position, from the position of the Ukrainian State, for me as an Orthodox believer, it gives pain to see the discord which dominates in the Ukrainian Orthodox Christian Churches in Ukraine. For that reason, during those nights of long discussion of the Memorandum of National Unity, I insisted that this issue needed an answer. And this is not political, but more an answer from you, as a citizen, as a believer, as a parishioner, that you cannot look calmly on such complicated processes in the Ukrainian Church. And this is the subject of Ukrainian mutual understanding.” ”[4].

During his official address during the celebrations on Independence Day, he also stated:

“Without interfering in Church affairs, however with faith in historical justice, I know that our people will welcome the creation of a single Local Ukrainian Orthodox Church which will take its place as the roundtable with other Churches and religions.”

  At the end of 2006 and beginning of 2007, the President met with the episcopate of both the Ukrainian Orthodox Church under the Moscow Patriarchate [UOC (MP)] and the UOC (KP). He again spoke of his readiness to promote the formation of a special commission with representatives of both Churches to achieve unification. At a meeting with the leaders of UOC (KP), Yushchenko told them that there is at present a group in the President’s Secretariat working on promoting dialogue between the two Churches in order to create a single Local Church. The President also stressed that the issue of creating a new culture of relations between the Church and State was of immediate relevance.

  This special attention which President Yushchenko pays to Orthodox issues has met with different responses from various religious organizations. It has unqualified support only from the UOC (KP), while UOC (MP) is negative towards it. Most others, however, have either not voiced an opinion publicly, or have expressed a cool attitude, criticism or non-acceptance. On several occasions in the secular milieu, the view has been heard that Ukraine is a secular State and that therefore the President should not concern himself with how to unite Orthodox believers in one Church. The possibility has also been raised of there being a danger of the Orthodox Church becoming a State religion. The President’s insistence on upholding his position has led to indignant publications in the Russian media calling on the Head [Predstoyatel] of UOC (MP) to avoid any acts of worship organized by the President’s Secretariat with the participation of leaders of other Churches[5].

  With regard to the “religious” policy of members of the ruling “anti-Crisis coalition”, it is worth noting that before the elections all its representatives associated themselves exclusively with UOC (MP), especially members of the Communist Party and the Party of the Regions. The appointment of Viktor Yanukovych Prime Minister aroused unconcealed approval among the leadership of this Church, both in Kyiv[6], and in Moscow[7].

  Like the President, the Prime Minister and Speaker of the Verkhovna Rada have held meetings with representatives of the All-Ukrainian Council of Churches and different religious organizations.  Viktor Yanukovych instructed the Deputy Prime Minister of Humanitarian Issues Dmytro Tabachnyk restart the Committee attached to the Cabinet of Ministers on the return of property and other possessions of religious organizations. He also instructed the Ministry of Justice when drawing up the draft law “On the fundamental principles of domestic and foreign policy” to set out legal norms to make the spread of propaganda for xenophobia, racism and anti-Semitism impossible.

In his church policy, Viktor Yanukovych has also not left out Orthodox themes. At all elections he has declared himself to be the defender of “canonical Orthodoxy”. During his premiership he has also preferred communicating with representatives of UOC MC. The latter associates him with the resolution of many issues, mainly with gaining legal entity status, the return of property and the strengthening of the Church’s position at local level. Some of his visits to the regions have been to meet with the clergy of UOC (MP) and to visit its churches. He always takes part in any acts of worship at State level involving the Head of UOC (MP) and tries to avoid any such occasions where this Church does not have official representatives. Incidentally, some Russian media outlets have demanded that he not take part in any religious events around Independence Day involving representatives of Orthodox Churches which do not have canonically recognized status in World Orthodoxy[8].

With regard to the President’s idea of State support for unifying movements in Ukrainian Orthodoxy, the Prime Minister stated that “the State should create conditions, however never interfere in the Church’s internal affairs”, and stressed that he would “carry out the kind of State policy that people, including believers, expect of him”. He also said that the State should “create conditions for the development of all denominations, however first and foremost for traditional Churches which include our Ukrainian Orthodox Church”.[9].  This statement could not fail to win the approbation of UOC (MP).

Among other members of the government who have spoken out against the President’s vision of inter-Orthodox relations is Dmytro Tabachnyk, mentioned above, who condemned any interference by politicians and government officials in internal Church matters. The episcopate of UOC (MP) does not conceal the fact that the Deputy Prime Minister looks favourably and with understanding on their needs. The Head of the Kyiv-Pecherska Lavra Archbishop Pavel hopes that Mr Tabachnyk will help with the transfer of all Lavra buildings which are presently used by the reserve and other structures.

  A somewhat strange position with regard to protection of religious freedom has been taken by the Verkhovna Rada and the government coalition. Despite assurances to spiritual leaders of their support, parliament has rejected a number of draft laws of great importance for religious organizations. The Head of the Government also turned down a request from the opposition to reduce payments on communal services for the Church to normal residential rates (as opposed to paying commercial organization rates as at present).[10].

One must in general note that the outcome of the parliamentary and local elections, followed by the formation of the “anti-Crisis” coalition with the election of Viktor Yanukovych Prime Minister, have fostered an increase in revanchist sentiments among certain circles of UOC (MP). In the media outlets which express the views of these circles, the idea has been voiced on many occasions that UOC (MP) needs to have its dominant position in society reinstated. Even the task of the newly-created government commission on the return of property and possessions previously owned by Churches, was declared to be taking property away from UOC (KP) and other religious organizations which UOC (MP) may consider theirs.

One of the key changes in the structure for relations between the State and religions was in the reinstatement of the State Committee on Matters of Nationalities and Religion.[11].

In the hierarchy of central government bodies, a State Committee comes directly after a Ministry, whereas a State Department is a structural subdivision of the latter. The Resolution envisages higher rank for the body on religious affairs (although the combining of religious and nationality issues raises some well-founded questions). The most important argument given for increasing the powers and raising the status of this government structure was that this would prevent uncoordinated interpretation of legislation at the local level. It would seem, however, expedient to first change the manifestly outdated legislation, and only then monitor its proper implementation. It is for this reason that the most surprising aspect of the decision to reinstate the State Committee is that it came at a time when a new version of the Law “On freedom of conscience and religious organizations” was actively being worked on.

It should be said that in itself the existence of a separate government body on religious matters does not contravene the principles of a democratic society, although practice shows that the more democratic a society, the less powers government bodies have. Most questions are raised by the fact that all this took place without any public discussion or publicity. It is manifestly clear that the implementation of such a system of government bodies has immediate impact on the effective exercising of the right to religious freedom. From experience one can predict that the their current reorganization will at very least not simplify the problem.

The “Anti-Crisis coalition” from the outset tried to push the idea that the State Committee on Religious Affairs needed to be reinstated. The Speaker of the Verkhovna Rada Oleksandr Moroz tried to lobby this at the level of the All-Ukrainian Council of Churches and religious organizations. However, unlike the new basic draft law on freedom of conscience, the idea of State Committee – 2 was not put forward for public debate.[12]. Experts suggest that “the news about the creation of a State Committee on Matters of Nationalities and Religions” [hereafter the State Committee] didn’t particularly surprise anybody”[13].

Circles within the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church roundly condemned both the reinstatement of the State Committee in general, and in particular the appointment as its head or a member of the Communist Party which is atheist in ideology and which does not conceal its sympathies for the UOC (MP) alone.[14]. Most other faiths have not publicly commented on the new body, believing that this could reflect on the State Committee’s attitude to them.

  Examples of the authorities’ lack of openness in the religious sphere can be seen in the functioning of a group in the President’s Secretariat “working on promoting dialogue between the two Churches in order to create a single Local Church”, or the department of humanitarian policy under the Cabinet of Ministers which also deals with religious issues.[15].

  There have been changes in the relations between Church and authorities at local level. As already mentioned, one of the President’s initiatives was the idea of creating inter-denominational councils as consultative bodies under the heads of regional state administrations. By the end of 2005 these councils had basically been created in all regions and had often begun playing a positive role in normalizing Church-State relations in the regions. At the same time, some old conflicts became more heated and new ones emerged, firstly on property issues. Not in all cases did the heads of the regional administrations and local councils manage to take a neutral position. The most prominent instigator of conflict was the head of the Rivne Regional Administration V. Chervony whose religious activities even became the focus of attention of a special parliamentary commission.

In 2006, especially after the parliamentary elections, the situation in some regions began to change. The most glaring manifestation of this was the return to favouritism of certain denominations and creations of obstacles for others.

In most regions the practice has remained of meetings between the management of the regional administrations and that of religious associations and organizations active in the regions. At the centre of focus are the already traditional issues regarding the return of property; the allocation of land for building churches; the Church’s social service; the introduce of Christian ethics courses, etc.


3.  Legislative provisions covering freedom of conscience and religion

In considering trends in the Verkhovna Rada’s activities in this sphere one needs first of all to consider the Law “On amendments to some legislative acts on increasing liability for unauthorized seizure of land”, adopted by the Verkhovna Rada on 11 January with proposals from the President. Although this law does not formally touch on religious issues, it is in real terms directed against members of the Crimean Tatar Muslim community who are forced to resort to unauthorized occupation of land in order to resolve their social problems. It could, if implemented consistently, lead to a serious escalation of problems both between religions and in the overall situation in the Autonomous Republic of the Crimea.

There were no significant changes in Ukrainian legislation relating to religious freedom and relations between State and Church, although at the beginning of 2006 plans for such were declared. For example, on 20 January 2006 the President issued Decree No. 39/2006 “On the Action Plan Regarding the Performance of Ukraine’s Obligations Pursuant to its Membership in the Council of Europe”. This instructed the Ministry of Justice to prepare a new version of the Law “On freedom of conscience and religious organizations”, as well as a draft law on refining the rules for the return of former Church possessions.

The main task of the working group created by the Ministry of Justice in implementation of the President’s demand is to bring current legislation into line with Council of Europe standards and to coordinate the norms of the present law “On freedom of conscience and religious organizations” with the Constitution and Civil Code. Unfortunately human rights groups were not invited to take part in this work. A major achievement of the working group has been to eliminate the discrepancies which had for years been obvious flaws in this law. Positive amendments include, for example, an extended range of those formally covered by the right to freedom of conscience and faith; extension of general legal capacity to religious organizations; a rejection of the classification “quasi-religious”, and the transfer of registration function to the Ministry of Justice.

As the basis for classification, the old religious criterion which led to a limited list of possible forms of religious organization (religious community; monastery; mission; brotherhood; seminary; religious association or religious centre) has been discarded. It is replaced by an organizational-legal criterion according to which all the varied forms of religious organizations, regardless of their title, are divided into three forms: religious society, that is, a religious organization created directly by individuals, so to speak, from the grassroots; a religious institution, or religious organization created by another religious organization- a legal entity, regardless of the organizational-legal form of the latter; or a religious association which is made up of religious societies and institutions and is created by religious societies.   It is envisaged that religious associations may be at a local or nationwide level, although admittedly this division does not meet international standards. In case of nationwide associations, they must have offices in the majority of Ukraine’s administrative territorial units.  The working group considers this distinction to be needed in order to later resolve issues around introducing chaplains in the Armed Forces, the criteria for including religious institutions in the All-Ukrainian Council of Churches and religious organizations, etc.

  A definite innovation is seen in the granting of legal status to religious associations, and not only to their centres as is set out in the current Law. The very granting of such status to Churches and religious associations makes it possible to resolve the question of restitution for Church property and to establish truly partner relations between the Church and State[16]  Of particular importance was the fact that the draft law was put forward for public discussion.

On the other hand the draft retains many features of the Soviet legacy. Two main hangovers can be identified. in spite of the proclaimed shift in focus to the rights of the individual, the latter becomes lost in the structure of the draft law, while despite the attempt to create a new and clear classification and reject detailed regulation of the rights of religious organizations, the draft law has many norms which remain interference in such organizations’ internal structures and activities. The draft also fails to regulate the rights of organizations existing without registration.

The Opinion of the Venice Commission[17] states that “In general the draft law can be seen as a liberal and favourable framework for the exercise of freedom of religion. …Few, though extremely important, issues remain however problematic and should lead to further consideration and improvements in the law, in order for it to meet all requirements of international standards”.  For example, the norms regulating the system of registration of religious organizations and their status as legal entities need to be clarified to avoid restrictions on the autonomy of a Church and religious freedom. The registration system needs to be simplified, and there is also a recommendation to pay attention to the clarity of wording and concepts in the draft

In 2006, on the commissioning of the Ministry of Justice, a draft law was drawn up under the title “On the principles for returning buildings of worship and property of religious organizations”[18] (made public in the middle of June 2006). This proposes defining at legislative level “the principles for returning buildings of worship and other possessions of religious organizations and their right of succession to property rights” Its aim is defined as being “to overcome the negative consequences of State policy on religion and the Church and to reinstate the rights of religious organizations who owned those buildings and property up until their transfer into State ownership”. There have already been attempts in Ukrainian legislation to regulate the return of religious organizations’ property.[19].  The fact that these acts were subordinate legislation, and largely declarative in nature, has considerably slowed down the process of restitution. The current law “On freedom of conscience and religious organizations”, as well as numerous draft laws with amendments or additions to it, only offer a partial resolution of the problem.[20]. The proposed new version of the draft law also has a number of significant shortcomings. For example, it does not define the guiding principles for the process of returning property; there is no definition of key terms in the law; it is not clear how historical heirs to property are to prove their right; there is no mention of the right to appeal against decisions of the authorized agency dealing with restitution, and so forth. Experts therefore speak of the declarative nature of this draft law which in fact has remained a draft “to be ticked off as done” and has not been considered further.

It should be noted that the main task of the legislators with regard to this issue should be to identify clear principles, criteria and mechanisms for transferring property to religious organizations. Without this the provisions of the draft law can be purely declarative intentions and will be open to manipulation both from civil servants and from leaders of religious organizations. It is disturbing that such an important document is still being drawn up without public discussion with representatives of religious organizations, lawyers, economists and international experts.

In 2006 several draft laws pertaining to the land issues of religious organizations were submitted to the Verkhovna Rada and considered.[21]. These envisaged reinstating the right of religious organizations to permanent use of land owned by the State or municipal authorities which they lost in 2001 as a result of the new version of the Land Code coming into effect. The adoption of these legislative amendments were supposed to enable religious organization to enjoy in practice concessions on paying land tax, envisaged in Article 12 § 1,5 of the Law “On payment for land”, as well as to carry out their activities in meeting the spiritual and social needs of believers more efficiently. However on 17 October 2006 the Verkhovna Rada rejected both draft laws. Another law was therefore registered on 30 October, this being the eighth since 2003. It was an analogous draft law on amendments to some laws of Ukraine on the right of religious organizations to permanently use land (registration № 2426, was submitted by State Deputies from the BYuT faction R. Lykyanchyk and O. Turchynov, and from the Party of the Regions – Y.M. Sukhy).

  Another bill was also tabled by National Deputies O. Bodnar and O. Turchynov on banning the privatization of former places of religious worship” (registration No. 2758 from 15.12.06), however this was rejected by parliament on 11 May 2007[22].

  On 25 April 2006 the Minister of Defence A. Hryshchenko issued an instruction on meeting the religious needs of military servicemen and guaranteeing their constitutional right to freedom of conscience. Despite position reactions, it is worrying that this document was never in fact made public. If this means forcing people to follow the religious practices preferred by the head of the military unit, this will categorically not promote the affirmation of religious freedom.


4.   Problems registering religious organizations and in cancelling such registration

The need for legal safeguards to ensure that religious organizations can gain legal entity status without any obstruction is set down in many international documents. The right of a religious organization to become a legal entity with all ensuring rights is an element of freedom of association.

The most important principle of Soviet law on religious freedom lay in depriving religious groups of legal entity status and of any possibility of obtaining it.[23].  In 1990, with the adoption of the Soviet law “On freedom of conscience and religious organizations”, the latter finally became able to obtain this status.[24].  Since 1991 the issue of legal status of religious organizations in Ukraine has been regulated by the law “On freedom of conscience and religious organizations”.

In Ukraine one needs to receive legal entity status in order to engage in virtually any formal religious activities, for renting premises, holding public services or inviting representatives of foreign religious figures, printing and disseminating literature. In order to have military service changed to alternative service, a person must belong to a registered organization included in the list of “organizations whose teachings do not allow the use of weapons”.

  We thus see that although the legislators set down that a religious community may exist legally without registration or legal entity status, in practice, registration is a necessary stage for a group of believes who wish in any way to practise their faith publicly.  Any unregistered community will encounter difficulties in organization religious events, inviting overseas religious figures, arranging alternative (non-military) service etc. Clearly such restrictions are a violation of religious freedom since the right to organize religious services, study and teach religion, publicize ones own beliefs and other activities have a direct impact on the human right to freedom of religion and should not be contingent upon the legal status of an organization.  It is important to stress that for some religious groups it is extremely important to have the possibility of not registering since the lack of any contact with the state authorities is a part of their teaching. This, for example, is the case with Jehovah’s Witnesses (of whom at the beginning of 2005 there were 626 registered and 345 unregistered congregations), as well as some groups of followers of certain eastern religions, some pagan teachings and certain Protestant congregations.  In addition this is the possibility to legally exist for religious groups who, for varying reasons, have less than 10 members.

It should be noted that since the law lacks any clear norms regarding the activities of unregistered religious groups (even notification of their existence is not required), cases of abuse of this status have been recorded.  For example, we are aware of cases where unregistered religious congregations rent premises for religious activities from state or educational institutions which in Ukraine is prohibited by law. The activities of such groups are also virtually not subject to monitoring.

  It has become customary for the Kyiv City State Administration’s Department on Religious Affairs to unlawfully and unwarrantedly demand that in submitting their charters for State registration, religious communities specify in their name affiliation with a particular Kyiv district. This effectively restricts the community’s activities to that given district. These demands from officials can be deemed interference in the activity of religious organizations, since the law “On freedom of conscience and religious organizations” does not envisage State registration of religious organizations’ charters at the city district level.  There have also been flagrant infringements through refusing to register the charters of several religious communities who were not prepared to make such changes to their name (for example, the religious congregation “Church of Evangelical Christians “City on the Hill”[25].

Certain problems arise over registration or re-registration in cases where there is internal conflict in a congregation or in the eparchy. Such conflicts are frequently over property, and the moment of registration is used to keep it for a particular denomination. This was the case with one UOC (MP) congregation in the Odessa region which came into conflict with the local eparchy management over the congregation’s church and therefore decided to transfer to the jurisdiction of the UOC (KP).  However in the regional department on religious affairs (not without influence from the eparchy management), the congregation’s charter was not re-registered,  but registered as a new charter, not cancelling from the registered the charter of the congregation of the UOC (MP). In this way a precedent was created that a congregation which was building a church could lose it, as happened in 2006.

As became known from the Zhytomyr Regional Administration, indifference from the management of the Ovrutsk-Korostenka eparchy and metropolitan office of the UOC (MP) to whether one Orthodox monastery and a convent in Cholovychi (Malynsk district) gain legal entity status is leading to numerous misunderstandings in the activities of these religious organizations. Both monastery and convent lack legal entity status, but the convent has presented employees of the regional administration with the charter of the religious congregation of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Blessed Metropolitan of Kyiv Mykhailo, the activity of which covers Kyiv, which is not entirely in keeping with the monk way of life and the place where it is located. In future this situation could complete financial and economic activities and there could be problems in registering the right to construct buildings of worship. For this reason, the settlement council of Cholovychi, and the Malynsk district administration have on a number of occasions asked the believers to gain legal status for both monasteries. Bearing in mind that both men and women’s are on the territory of the Ovrutsk-Korostenka eparchy of the UOC (MP), the district administration addressed a request to the Archbishop Vissaryon to support the registration of the monasteries. They received no response.

The Donetsk – Kharkiv exarchate of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church [UGCC] report that a UGCC congregation in Kryvy Rih (Dnipropetrovsk region) encountered problems in registering as a religious organization.

Deputies from the Lviv Regional Council proposed taking the religious organizations Jehovah’s Witnesses off the register on the grounds that by its activities it offended some Christian believers. The relevant appeal was sent to the Verkhovna Rada. We would, however, note that this decision had no legal grounds nor legal consequences.

For several years the Unification Church (founded by the South Korean Sun Myung Moon) has not been able to gain legal registration as a religious organization.

Mormons have the same problem with religious organizations in some regions encountering obstructions over registration.

Another world-known organization, Scientologists would like to receive official legal status. At present they engage in widespread unofficial activities in Ukraine, partly presenting this as human-rights related.  Their official registration has been opposed by a lot of Ukrainian Churches and religious organizations (certainly not all officially), who consider Scientologists’ activities to be especially dangerous for the public.

The Greek Catholic congregation of Christ the King in Luhansk has experienced pressure from the local authorities. They have had applications for land to build a church turned down and have not been permitted to hold public events. Then recently the Department for fighting organized crime has taken an interest in the financial state of the congregation. Greek Catholic believers are convinced that a campaign against their Church and persecution of dissident thinkers are being waged in the Luhansk region.

In January 2005 the congregation discovered that their legal registration had been withdrawn by a court ruling on the grounds that they were not registered with the tax inspectorate. The congregation was, moreover, not informed of the court hearings and only learned of the ruling by chance. They turned to the courts and succeeded in having their legal status reinstated. Foreseeing that this would not be the end of the “interest” which the local authorities were taking in the Luhansk Greek Catholic congregation, they appealed to human rights organizations and the media to defend freedom of conscience, the Constitution and the equality of all before the law.


5.   Property and land issues

In this area one can identify the following problems:

obstruction in building places of worship - this is seen mainly in cases where a congregation has in some way actually received land but cannot settle on it or cannot complete already started construction;

obstruction in renting premises – this is largely a problem encountered by Protestant congregations who cannot or do not want to build their own premises and therefore rent them for their own religious purposes from State or municipal authorities. The problems they encounter mainly arise when concluding lease agreements or in extending these;

delays or reluctance to return religious organizations property or other possessions once used for religious purposes, conflict with the institutions which now own them. This applies in many cases to Roman Catholics, Orthodox and some Protestants.

inter-denominational conflicts over churches arise due to lack of coordination over alternate use or transfer by the State of certain property to one Church where another has claims to it. These are normally between different Orthodox Churches or in some western regions between Greek Catholics and Orthodox believers;

attempts to take away (by returning to State or municipal property) land or other possessions from religious organizations which already belongs to them. There are not many such cases.  The property may be of interest to businesses due to a good location or high commercial value.

An analysis of appeals to the Human Rights Ombudsperson shows that almost 60% concern the problem of shortage of premises for religious services. This problem is partly resolved through handing the place of worship to two or more religious organizations to use in turns, as per Article 17 of the Law “On freedom of conscience and religious organizations”. Unfortunately, in many cases this provokes conflict situations between religious congregations from different denominations. Arguments over the right to possess or use religious buildings and other property are most heated in the Transcarpathian, Chernihiv, Rivne and Lviv regions.

Since property and land issues are usually within the jurisdiction of the local authorities, this creates the right conditions for abuse and discrimination which is a manifestation of intolerance. In order to partially resolve this problem, the issue of legislative regulation over the return of places of worship and other property to religious organizations must be placed on the agenda.


Cases where religious organizations’ right to land and other property were violated

In many cases the Bailiffs’ Service has not managed to enforce court rulings in property disputes. Several dozen rulings in the Lviv region along have not been enforced. Religious congregations sometimes therefore choose to seize churches.

Deputies of the Lutsk City Council voted to let a piece of land at 5 Karpendko-Kary St to the limited liability company “Femida-Inter” in order to create a car-washing complex. The said address is however also the legal and actual location of the UGCC St. Basil the Great Chapel and a connected monastery which has been under construction there for over ten years. As a result of the City Council’s decision, “Femida-Inter” legally received the right to the land site with the monastery buildings on it.

  The longstanding problem over allocating a site for the construction of the eparchy cathedral of the UOC (MP) in Lviv remains unresolved. The eparchy of the UOC (KP) which does not have a cathedral or building for the eparchy administration is complaining about the local authorities. The land in the city centre which UOC (KP) had asked for was not given to them. Instead, some time later a Mormon Church appeared on the site. No less acrimonious has been the situation over the eparchy administration and seminary of the UAOC who are demanding that the city return them a complex which is at the present time a college. From their side, the city deputies noted that a process is underway in the city of seizures by religious congregations of land, mainly in park areas where unlawful buildings of worship are being constructed. These comments have been made in relation effectively to all the main denominations in the city.

  For over ten years the Muslim community in Lviv has been trying to receive land for construction. The sites which they have been offered by the city authorities are not suitable for geological or other reasons.

  The problems over land and property are at a dangerous level in the Crimea. At the beginning of October 2006, the Crimean prosecutor’s office sent a letter to the leaders of the autonomous republic in which it acknowledged that “the lack of resolution on the transfer of religious buildings to religious congregations and provision of land sites for them to build places of worship remain a destabilizing element in the relations between the State and religious organizations and grounds for inter-denominational conflict.”

  The prosecutor’s office identified numerous violations by the local authorities and bodies of local self-government in the Crimea who do not even have a system for registering religious organizations and buildings of worship in their possession or exploitation. For example, up till now bodies of local self-government have not taken the measures set out in the Presidential Decree “On urgent measures to finally overcome the consequences of the totalitarian policy of the former USSR with regard to religion and the restoration of the violated rights of the Church and religious organizations”, with regard to returning former buildings of worship to religious organizations. At the present time in the Crimea there are 26 such buildings of which 9 are State-owned and the others municipal property.

The prosecutor’s office has published the following flagrant examples of disregard for the rights of religious communities to have buildings of worship returned.

A decision of the Alushtyn City Council unlawfully leased a former synagogue to a limited liability company for 10 years despite a well-founded claim having been made on it by the religious community “Menora”.

Dissatisfaction and tension in inter-denominational relations have been aroused by the failure to take action on transferring the Mosque “Khan-Jami” to a Muslim community. The territory of this complex is in the use of a military unit which is letting it to commercial outfits.

  Cases have been established where the local authorities took decisions to take buildings of worship away from religious organizations and communities. In August 2006 the Executive Committee of the Yalta City Council passed a decision to transfer a Lutheran church building to the municipal enterprise “Yalta housing exploitation”. The officials were not even stopped by the resolution of the Crimean Council of Ministers, adopted fourteen years earlier, which handed this building over for the free use by the Lutheran community in Yalta!

On the basis of a decision by the Zemlyanychna Village Council in the Bilohirsk district in 2005 8 individuals were permitted to privatize land in the village of Uchebne, within territory provided in accordance with a State act with the right of permanent use to the Tolpovsky Svyato-Paraskevivsky Women’s Monastery.

The lack of a place of worship and the unwillingness of the local authorities to provide the UOC Kyiv Patriarchate with land provoked conflict at an inter-denominational level in Yevpatoriya. This resulted in a public religious service attended by more than 80 people being held at an intersection.

Given the lack of proper control from the local councils of the Feodosiya and Yalta regions, and the Krasnoperekolsky, Kirovsky, Leninsky, Pervomaisky, Dzhankoisky and Chervonohvardiysky districts of the city of Kerch, individual religious organizations are infringing land and city construction legislation – only half of them have the right and statute documents for the land.

Cases have been established where construction was carried out without plans or documents for the land, and with no building permit. It transpired that just in Feodosiya region 10 religious communities have not seen the need to formalize documentation. Of 9 religious organizations in the Kirovsk district who are constructing buildings for worship, not one had approached the Kirovsk architecture and construction office for building permits.

  In all according to the results of the prosecutor’s check 10 protests against unlawful decisions by local councils were made, as well as 17 submissions and instructions on removing infringements of the law. In addition 12 resolutions were passed to institute administrative proceedings and 4 to begin disciplinary proceedings.[26].

  The Simferopol City Council refused to return the former Lutheran church to the Lutheran community despite serious legal grounds. This church which had been closed by the Soviet authorities in 1926 was leased out by the Simferopol Mayor’s office for construction of a private sports club.

In 2006 there were a fair number of conflicts between religious congregations of different denominations over church buildings. The most prominent of these were in the Rivne region, Chernihiv and Bukovyna.

In Chernihiv there was a serious conflict between Orthodox congregations over St Kateryna [Catherine] Church which is the main attraction of the city. The conflict could be called the most prominent in 2006.  Back in 2005 the Head of the Regional Administration had promised to hand this Cossack church which belongs to the historical and architectural reserve for use to the “Cossack congregation” of UOC (KP). When the museum staff had basically prepared the premises to be handed over, on 5 May 2006, the Head of the Chernihiv Regional Administration Mykola Lavryk, on the basis of the President’s Decree on transferring places of worship to believers, issued an instruction “On handing over St. Kateryna Church for the use of the religious congregation of the UOC (KP) of the city of Chernihiv.”

In reaction to this, believers from the UOC (MP) came out in protest and were supported by fellow believers from other regions. The conflict was particularly heightened and politicized by members of the Union of Orthodox Citizens, the organization “Proryv” [“Breakthrough”], the Progressive Socialist Party of Ukraine (including people arriving from other cities) who organized a blockade of the Church, not allowing museum staff near it. In this situation, the police did not fulfil their duty with regard to protecting State property and enforcing decisions of the Head of the Regional Administration, and began effectively serving as the picketers’ guard.

In a ruling from 12 July 2006, the Chernihiv Economic Court suspended the force of the Head of the Regional Administration’s Resolution handing the church over to believers of UOC (KP). In July and August 2006 court hearings continued into several claims lodged over the church. On 2 August the Chernihiv Economic Court heard a claim brought by the Chernihiv eparchy of the UOC (MP) and the Green Party against the Chernihiv City Council over the latter’s decision to not hand St. Kateryna’s to the UOC (MP). This was already the second hearing; the first took place on 26 July, however the court deferred the hearing since the respondent’s representative refused to accept the claim as lawful, while the representatives of the UOC (KP) demanded that the Orthodox congregation who was supposed to receive the church be brought into the proceedings. The court once again chose to defer the hearings, this time over a counter claim from National Deputy Mykola Rudkovsky, who lodged a claim against the decision of the Head of the Chernihiv Regional Administration Mykola Lavryk to hand the church over for use to the UOC (KP). It became known that the court was planning to combine both claims. Meanwhile, yet another civil claim emerged in the scandal around St. Kateryna Church. The directorate of the Museum of decorative art which is in the church building lodged their suit against the picketers who, as the claim read “prevent the museum staff from working”. The court rejected M. Rudkovsky’s claim, however it had still not issued a final ruling regarding the fate of the church by the end of the year.

On 5 September there was a clash near the church between members of the Youth National Congress who were planning to remove the blockade and supporters of UOC (MP), mainly members of the Progressive-Socialist Party [PSPU] and the Union of Orthodox Citizens of Ukraine [UOCU] who, with the support of special units “Berkut” and “Gryphon” did not allow the young people near the church. They were all taken to the city police station and then released after a few hours.

At the beginning of the 2007 the picket held by representatives of the Chernihiv eparchy of the UOC (MP), together with the PSPU and UOCU, near St Kateryna Church was continuing. They have illegally connected themselves to the electricity network and have erected a tent city near the architectural monument. They are being guarded by members of the police. The eparchy of the UOC (KP) also decided to set up their tents however this came up against brutal behaviour from the opposing party.

No decision, whether from the court or from the authorities, will lead to a peaceful resolution of the problem since representatives of the UOC (MP) are not prepared to cede any church to the UOC (KP), and are even demanding that they get the next buildings. The Head of the Chernihiv Regional Administration is no longer insisting that his decision be enforced. The situation would appear a stalemate if the authorities do not enforce their decisions and the police do not fulfil their direct duties.

After over a year’s confrontation, the High Administration Court has returned an UOC (MP) congregation the Svyato-Troitsky Church in the village of Rokhmaniv in the Ternopil area. In 2005 the congregation split up, with some transferring to the jurisdiction of the UOC (KP). They also raised the issue of taking turns in using the church, with this being supported by the Ternopil Regional Administration and the local court. The latter revoked an old ruling which had handed the only church in the village into the possession of the UOC (MP) congregation. Due to the fact that members of the UOC (MP) refused to take turns, they were totally stopped from using the church. For over a year this conflict has been raging. On 31 August a hearing was held of the High Administration Court which revoked the instruction of the Head of the Ternopil Regional Administration on using the church in turn, and reinstated the rights of the congregation of the UOC (MP) to the church. In response to this decision, the congregation of the UOC (KP) lodged a complaint with the Supreme Court which suspended enforcement of that ruling.

The Lviv Roman Catholic Church complain that , in breach of a court ruling, the authorities of the town of Khyriv in the Lviv region are not returning the church building to the Roman Catholic congregation.

The Muslim community in Dnipropetrovsk has for not the first decade already been demanding the return of the mosque built by their predecessors before the First World War. During Soviet times the mosque was not used as such. At present it holds a children’s sport school and quite a number of commercial enterprises. The city authorities are turning down the demands on the grounds that the mosque building was destroyed during the War and the new building was erected using city money. The Muslims have documents which maintain that in fact the mosque was not fully destroyed, and that there were only other buildings added to it (with an area of over 1000 square metres) which the Muslims are making no claim to and suggest that they be left to the sport school. Instead the city’s Muslims are forced to use premises not suited for their religious purposes.

In 2006 several situations arose where residents of micro-districts came out against plans to build places of worship in their district. A telling example of this was a case in the centre of Kyiv when the fate of the church was determined at public hearings. On 19 October in the Shevchenkivsky district of Kyiv, at the intersection of O. Honchar St and B. Khmelnytsky St (in Zoya Kosmodemyanska Square) public hearings took place over a building permit in that place for an Orthodox church. The hearings brought residents of the micro-district, deputies of the district council and parishioners of the St Volodymyr Church located in the premises of Hospital No. 18.  Supporters and opponents of the planned church gathered in separate groups near each other. The atmosphere became more and more fraught, with heated clashes breaking out from time to time between the two camps. Not long before the official beginning of the public hearings, Father Andriy Mykalyk (of the UOC (MP)), who is in fact the initiator of the church construction arrived. He addressed those present through a loudspeaker asserting the lawfulness and need to build the church. “The Orthodox community has both a moral and legal right to build a church in Zoya Kosmodemyanska Square. In accordance with the decision of the Kyiv Council №373/2948 from 21 April 2005 land was allocated for the construction. On 21 January 2006 the department of the State architectural and construction inspectorate in Kyiv issued a building permit for work №1812-Shv/S.  The final site for the building of the church was determined as at the intersection of O. Honchar St and B. Khmelnytsky St which was provided instead of the previously assigned site on the corner of O. Honchar and M. Kotsubynsky St.”, he said. The Deputy Head of the Shevchenkivsky district administration in Kyiv M. P. Nedashkivsky also came to the hearings and called for a beginning of dialogue. However the given initiative basically failed since the parties were not ready to seek compromise.


6.   The right of peaceful religious gatherings

The Law on freedom of conscience and religious organizations, in breach of Article 39 of the Constitution, establishes a permit-based procedure for holding mass religious events.

In practice public religious gatherings confront an even greater number of problems linked with discrimination, intolerance or an arbitrary interpretation of legislation.

On 12 January 2007 the Kharkiv – Poltava eparchy of the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church learned that the Kharkiv City Executive Committee had turned down their application (submitted on 28 December 2006) for priests of the UAOC to bless the water on 19 January, on the day of the Baptism of our Lord [Khreshchennya Hospodnye] in one of the springs at Sadzhyny Yar. After the conflict gained wide publicity the ban was removed.

The Mayor of Irpin in the Kyiv region banned the Baptist religious community “Biblical Church” from holding s summer children’s camp. “I prohibit the holding of events with children in religious communities”, was the verdict of Myroslava Svystovych, Mayor of Irpin when asked to give permission for the local House of Culture to be used for holding several one-day children’s camps. According to the programme for the event, the children were to take part in handicraft and singing groups, put on theatrical performances and various forms of entertainment, study Biblical stories and take part in sports competitions. They had previously been refused permission by the Deputy Mayor on humanitarian issues Petro Lyaskovsky.  His grounds were as follows:  1) he maintained that such churches as “Biblical Church” divide Ukraine and that therefore we have not been able to build our State; 2) he accused the community of campaigning for adults and children to join their Church and forcing them to pay a “tenth” tithe; 3) he stated that the community was not a church but a sect which was involved in making people into zombies. He believed that there should only be a Ukrainian Orthodox Church, and that proselytizing to other denominations was unpatriotic. He also threatened that if the community still attempted to work with children (meaning studying Biblical stories and singing Christian songs), then they would be held liable before the law.  The community believes that the officials were led by their emotions and that their statements had not been thought out. As became known, the conflict was resolved.

In the settlement of Ivanivka in the Luhansk region, on being informed that the local Protestant community planned to hold a concert of Christian songs near the settlement club, the local authorities reacted negatively, prohibiting “any activities of totalitarian sects on the territory of the Ivanivka Settlement Council”. This wording is contained in the official decision of the fifth session of the post-election Ivanivka Settlement Council “On prohibiting totalitarian activities on the territory of the Ivanivka Settlement Council” № 5/12 from 22.08.2006. Despite the support of settlement residents for the concert of Christian songs, the representatives of the local authorities and particular individuals succeeded in twice disrupting the event, stopping the equipment from working and hurling abuse at the believers. They used the decision of the settlement council as justification for their actions. Moreover, representatives of the law enforcement agencies who came at the request of the concert organizers to ensure public order did not use any measures against people who were trying to disrupt the concert and provoke a fight. Members of the Protestant community approached the Luhansk Region Prosecutor Y.V. Udartsov over the violation of their constitutional rights. They called on the Prosecutor to defend their legitimate interests and to make a protest against the decision of the Ivanivka Settlement Council № 5/12 from 22.08.2006.  The response of the Prosecutor to this appeal is not known.


7.   The right to religious upbringing and education

  On 9 March 2006 the Ministry of Education moved from its traditional position and at a session of the State Accreditation Commission officially recognized theology as an academic discipline. This placed theology students on an equal footing with other students, for example, with regard to deferment of military service, concessionary fares on public transport, etc. In the light of this decision, on 4 April 2006 the Verkhovna Rada adopted amendments to the Law on military duty and service which allowed for deferment from being called up or from military training sessions, for day students of theological faculties, as well as their graduates who have taken religious orders. However being included in the register is only the first step towards exercising the declared rights. Heads of such institutes now face licensing and accreditation issues, while graduates of previous years need to have their degrees recognized.

  On the other hand, the lack of consistency of the authorities with regard to guarantees of religious rights in education can be seen in the attitude to the draft law on giving religious organizations the right to found general education institutions at different levels (the author was V. Stretovych, register № 2020 from 30.08.06). Despite the sense and justification of the proposals, as well as the support of the All-Ukrainian Council of Churches and Religious Organizations, in November 2006 the draft law was rejected, both by the profile committee and by the Verkhovna Rada. One of the conceptual failings of the draft law was deemed to be that “it does not give a clear answer to the question what type (secular or religious) will be the educational institutions founded by religious organizations”.

The introduction of a subject “The Foundations of Christian Ethics” (or “Religious ethics”) was more actively discussed in the first half of 2006. in 2005 those initiating such a course gained the support of President Yushchenko. The issue was brought to a nationwide level and actively discussed in the media. The Ministry of Education and Science spoke out against the introduction of such a course.

In June 2006 the same Ministry proposed another new concept for teaching moral and ethical subjects at school.[27]. However this concept aroused a wave of indignation among representatives of several leading Christian churches. The latter approached both the President and the Ministry of Education on this matter however this gave no result.

  Certain experiments in introducing subjects with a spiritual and moral focus in the system of general secondary education have been tried out in the Lviv, Ternopil, Ivano-Frankivsk, Rivne and other regions. Subjects with a spiritual theme like “Christian Ethics”, “Christian Culture”, “Foundations of the Orthodox Culture of the Crimea”, “Foundations of the Muslim culture of the Crimea”, etc, are studied in a quarter of such general educational institutions. In general in various regions of the country, subjects of Christian ethics and other subjects with a spiritual and moral focus are being introduced with varying degrees of interest from parents, students and the public, as well as different levels of depth and quality in teaching the subjects and training staff.

  According to the standard curricula for 12-year schools approved by the Ministry of Education and Science, as well as the relative letters of the Ministry, the study is envisaged in the fifth and sixth grades of general educational institutions, beginning from 1 September 2005, at the choice of students’ parents, the subject “Ethics”, or (/as well as) subjects with a spiritual and moral focus to the number of hours allowed for the study in the fifth and sixth grades of the subject of “Ethics”. From 2006 the conceptual principles envisage that students in the fifth and sixth grades study “Ethics”, Foundations of Christian ethics”, “Foundations of religious ethics”. The choice of one of these is made on the basis of a written application from parents or those replacing parents, bearing in mind the opinion of the student him or herself.

  However experts note a certain decrease in the number of students studying Christian ethics.

  This is the case, for example, in the Chernihiv region. “The number of students studying Christian and religious ethics in general education schools in Chernihiv, compared with last year, has almost halved”, the head of the department of education of the Chernihiv City Council Mykhailo Ruban stated. In 2005 new courses “Foundations of Christian Ethics” and “Foundations of Religious Ethics” were taught in 23 schools of this regional centre, while in 2006 only in 11. Last year there were 738 children studying these courses, this year only 400, although there is interest, both from school students and from their parents. Mykhailo Ruban attributes this reduction to a shortage of specialists. He says that only teachers who have undergone special training have the right to teach on these courses not linked to any particular faith. This should be dealt with by the Institute of Postgraduate Education however the latter is not managing to provide for demand. In addition, the requirements for teaching Christian and general religious ethics are fairly high. As well as a base humanitarian education and general level of erudition, they need high moral qualities. After all, the lessons touch on such universal human values as conscience, good, beauty, love, piety, honour, compassion and duty. “Neither course is linked with religious ritual”, Mykhailo Ruban stresses – “The material for the classes on Christian ethics are the best attainments of Christian culture and both Ukrainian and world philosophy. The course “Foundations of Religious Ethics” is based on the moral principles of world religions. Its aim is to develop tolerance and the ability to co-exist in a multi-faith environment”. Students begin attending such courses with the written consent of their parents. Priests and other formal religious figures are not invited to teach such courses in Chernihiv region schools. At the present stage the department of education of the Chernihiv City Council is proposing to introduce courses to train specialists on a distance learning basis, and that school students speak with priests in churches, not at school.


8.   Political activities engaged in by religious organizations

The involvement of religious organizations (forced or voluntary) in political activities is one of the forms of exploiting their public influence for political purposes. Effectively, not one electoral campaign in Ukraine during the years of independence has passed without the involvement of religious figures. This can be seen in use of the altar for political campaigning, clergy on candidate lists, and most often both of these forms together.

The Presidential elections in 2004 demonstrated the worst forms of Church involvement in dirty campaigning but also provided an example of the possibilities for joint participation of different Churches and religious organizations in defending the values of civic society.

In comparison with 2004, there was less involvement of the clergy in the 2006 parliamentary and local elections. The elections were for the first time under a new proportional representation system. There were 10 priests or other religious figures on the parliamentary candidate lists from various parties and political blocs (according to information from the Central Election Commission[28]), which is not, after all, prohibited by law. On the other hand, the candidate lists for different levels of local councils contained a fair number of religious figures.  This resulted in many of them being elected to different councils. Perhaps a record was set by priests from the Khmelnytsky eparchy of the UOC (KP) which, headed by their Bishop, took up 15 positions in various councils. The strongest reaction from the mass media was elicited by the fact that the candidate list for the Party of the Regions in the Odessa regional council was headed by the local Metropolitan of the UOC (MP) Ahafangel (he has always been interested in politics, was actively involved in the 2004 elections, and he began his deputy activities back in Soviet times).

Of course, it is difficult to imagine that participation by representatives of different Churches and religious organizations in the elections (this being their legal right as citizens) could go ahead without violations of current legislation which prohibits the Church from engaging in political activities.  Understanding the complexity of the problem, many Churches have issued public statements prohibiting their clergy from taking part in elections to the Verkhovna Rada, and the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church strictly forbids its priests from taking part in elections at any level at all.[29].

In order to prevent religious life becoming politicized, following an initiative from President Yushchenko, on 3 March 2006, at a meeting with the President members of the All-Ukrainian Council of Churches and Religious Organizations signed a declaration prohibiting the use of the authority of Churches and religious organizations in pre-election campaigning.[30].

  Linked with those elections was one other religious-political theme which was periodically discussed on a wide scale by the media during 2006. This was the victory in the elections of Kyiv Mayor Leonid Chernovetsky, member of the charismatic religious organization “Assembly of God” which is led by the well-known preacher Sunday Adeladja and which helped him to win. Later critical comments about Chernovetsky’s activities have almost always been of a religious nature and have bordered on the limits of religious tolerance.

  Most politically active among religious organizations are some new Protestant organizations. Particularly prominent are communities forming part of the association “New Generation” (created at the beginning of 2007), whose leader is a pastor from Latvia Oleksy Lyedyaev, author of teachings about a “New world order”.

  It has already become standard before elections that political parties and blocs introduce a religious element to their programme material, using religious terminology for the sake of its effect on voters, most of whom are believers. Following the elections, however, it is also equally traditional that promises to defend and stand up for the interests of the Church are forgotten.  This, for example, is demonstrated by the voting on draft laws pertaining to religious life, allocation of land for building places of worship (with this especially noticeable at local council level) or the return of former religious property, and even in support for those draft laws which are advantageous for their “favoured” denominations.

  In the post-2006 Verkhovna Rada, as in previous terms, there were lobbies for certain Churches. This time the most overtly expressed lobby was that for the UOC (MP). As already mentioned, all three parties of the governing coalition identify themselves with support of this Church. At the same time, in the profile committee on spiritual issues members of the opposition dominate and they are inclined to support the so-called pro-national Churches.[31].  This can lead to speculation on the religious card in the political struggle both at the Verkhovna Rada level and other bodies of power.

  In 2006 it was possible to further observe the process of politicization of religious life reflected in the interference by certain political forces (for example the Progressive Socialist Party) in inter-denominational confrontations; the participation of church-linked civic organizations (which identify themselves as speaking on behalf of a particular church group) in political actions (protests against NATO, pro-Western policy, for closer ties with Russia, in support of the Russian language as a second State language – this being one of the main spheres of activity of the Union of Orthodox Citizens of Ukraine).

As examples one can cite the conflicts over churches in the Rivne region and in Chernihiv. In both cases the side of UOC (MP) has been actively supported by the Progressive Socialist Party which also presented itself at the elections as the defender of this Church and was in a bloc with civic organizations which identify itself with the same Church (for example, the Union of Orthodox Citizens of Ukraine). The actions of representatives of PSPU were overtly intolerant and aimed at provocation with respect to the opposite site (UOC (KP).

One can say that overall there has been a reduction in political activeness of religious organizations when compared with 2004 and 2005. This is explained, among other things, by the ineffectiveness of political propaganda in churches, as well as by the fact that there is [or seemed to be in 2006 – translator] a fairly large amount of time before the next elections, and therefore possibility the political parties have lost interest in religion. However, the latest political crisis could change all of this, and if elections are again on the horizon, then religious organizations could be pulled into the maelstrom of political technologies.


9.   Rejection of identification numbers of religious grounds[32]

The State Tax Administration [STA] has regulated how identification numbers are received by tax payers who had previously rejected them on the grounds of their religious convictions. This was the substance of an STA Order from 6 July 2006, registered with the Ministry of Justice on 3 August. The document states that a person who on the grounds of religious or other convictions refused to have an identification number, and after some time changed his/her decision, may approach an STA office at their place of registration and ask to receive such a number (repeat allocation of number). Procedure is also envisaged for adding a note to a person’s passport about the possibility of carrying out operations without an identification number when changing passports.[33].


10  Religious intolerance and incitement to enmity between different religions

 The overall level of religious tolerance

  The most adequate legal mechanism for ensuring an atmosphere of tolerance in society lies in negative legal regulation, that is, the prohibition of discrimination, and specifically “any distinction, exclusion, restriction or preference based on religion or belief and having as its purpose or as its effect nullification or impairment of the recognition, enjoyment or exercise of human rights and fundamental freedoms on an equal basis”[34].  However the principle of tolerance and prohibition of discrimination on religious grounds are not clearly enough regulated by legislation thus preventing the legal remedies from being fully effective.

Although the legislators clearly prohibit religious organizations from interfering in the activities of other organizations, in any way propagating enmity and intolerance to believers of other faiths or to non-believers, as well as insisting that teachers of religion and preachers must guide their audience in a spirit of tolerance and respect, there is no mechanism for exercising these bans and requirements.

Legislation stipulates criminal liability for “deliberate acts aimed at inciting ethnic, racial or religious antagonism” (Article 161 of the Criminal Code), “for damaging religious buildings and others linked with religious practice” (Article 178) , “for unlawfully holding, desecrating or destroying religious sacred objects” (Article 179) and “for causing obstruction to religious rites” (Article 180). In fact, however, to a large extent due to the shortcomings of these norms, virtually no one has been convicted under these articles.

A glaring example of religious intolerance was provided in 2006 by some Deputies of the Verkhovna Rada. During addresses on draft laws pertaining to religion, a number of National Deputies made speeches with overt elements of intolerance. Most known for this can be said to be National Deputy from the Party of the Regions Yury Boldyryev who has on many occasions in parliament divided religious organizations into “ours” (here he generally puts UOC (MP) and seldom any others) and “alien” or “non-traditional” with whom he plans to fight on a legislative level[35]. One should in fairness mention that in later speeches he has been more restrained.

Certain court rulings also fail to encourage tolerance. Support in a dispute for the dominating denomination in the region is one example of discrimination. We could cite here the acquittal by a court in the Cherkasy region of a UOC (MP) priest accused of inciting inter-denominational enmity and assault on six Jehovah’s Witnesses whom he actually beat up. This was despite the fact that the priest had publicly admitted to beating them and had stated that he “would do the same again” since the six had trespassed onto his territory and pushed him.

  One can identify several “points of tension” and the levels to which they manifest themselves. In general, when characterizing “points of tension” (of intolerance) on religious grounds, they can be classified into several groups.

1)  Division into so-called “traditional – non-traditional” religions. There is no legislative or other formalized classification (definition) of such a distinction. Loosely speaking, one could thus consider as traditional those religious movements which have existed in Ukraine for one hundred or more years, or at least existed in one form or another before the end of the 1980s, while non-traditional movements are those which appeared in Ukraine from the end of the 1980s, or which existed earlier, but with few members. An exception here would be the Jehovah’s Witnesses who have been present in Ukraine since the beginning of the twentieth century, but are generally considered “non-traditional”.

2. Relations between different religions: in the main between Christians and Muslims, and between Christians and members of the Jewish religion.

3. Inter-Church relations:  the relations between different Christian Churches, for example, between Orthodox believers and Catholics, between old and new Protestant movements, and others.

4. Relations between different Orthodox Churches: these need to be placed in a separate group since they form a separate topic of attention.

5. Intolerance to religion: a negative attitude to religiousness as such and its expression.

Intolerance can be expressed at the following levels:

at the everyday level – not accepting the possibility of co-existence with members of other denominations and faiths, unwillingness to tolerate them;

at the social level  - not recognizing the right of communities with other religious views to exist, nor their right to their own missionary or other activities; intolerance in social institutions, for examples, educational or cultural institutions;

at the governmental level – public officials putting obstacles in the way of certain religious organizations from the position of their own religious or denominational views; dividing denominations into “ours” and “alien”, “national” and “not national”, favouring the first and showing prejudice to the others.

The most common problems with intolerance and discrimination on the grounds of religion and other convictions in Ukraine remain:

disregard for the human right to freely practise any religion or none, to belong to a certain Church or to none;

procrastination in transferring or allowing the use of property, with building permits, etc;

obstruction of religious activities;

preventive measures against new religious movements;

religious intolerance in education and educational literature;

dragging out registration and demands for additional documentation;

lack of recognition of the hierarchical structure of some religious organizations;


The issue of tolerance in inter-denominational relations

Tension continues in inter-denominational relations. In Ukrainian multi-denominational conditions, the most discomfort is experienced by Orthodox Churches. The main differences, and as a result, reasons for intolerance in relations between Orthodox Churches, are loosely speaking worldview-ideological, political – legal, and on the economic front. The number of Ukrainian Churches with common (Byzantine) roots are seen not as denominational pluralism, explained by the real guarantees for free choice (which did not exist under either Tsarist or Soviet totalitarianism) which should be tolerated, but as a schism, an anomaly which needs to be rectified. It is this logic which governs the attempts to in one way or another forcibly unite the existing Orthodox Churches into one Orthodox entity. Tolerance in this situation is often seen as a harmful obstacle to such unity since it legitimizes the situation which has emerged.

On the other hand, considering religious freedom to be a side effect of secularization, for Orthodoxy dialogue and respect are possible on condition of agreement in key doctrinal matters.[36]. The primacy of truth over freedom of choice in seeking it is indisputable. It is for this reason that the concept of tolerance as “an active attitude prompted by recognition of the universal human rights and fundamental freedoms of others, […]It involves the rejection of dogmatism and absolutism”[37], is alien to the Orthodox perception of the world. It is also important that Orthodox moral teachings deny the possibility of tolerating evil which is apostasy against the truth (schism) or its distortion (heresy). For this reason its tasks “(…) through unfitting intolerance to not create unnecessary obstacles in unification” does not apply to all Churches (Principles of the relation to other Slavs, Anniversary Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church, 2000). One can add to ideological factors the difference between legitimizing their own existence (the canonical Church, the Ukrainian Church, the Autocephalous Church, etc), the attitude to other religious organizations and political preferences.

Despite a more or less common attitude to the State authorities as such and a general model for State – Church relations, there is no agreement in the Orthodox milieu as to key issues of legislation on religious issues, provision of legal status and restitution for Churches and religious organizations. The most problematic area where intolerance is manifested in relations between Orthodox Churches, and inter-denominational relations as a whole is over property.

  Among other acute points of intolerance in inter-denominational relations are those between Orthodox believers and Greek Catholics, particularly in western regions of Ukraine and in some populated areas in the East and South (Yalta, Kharkiv, Luhansk and others).

  Relations remain strained between so-called “traditional” and “non-traditional” religious organizations. One quite often hears calls from the former to ban the activities of what they call sects. Related draft laws appear in parliament from time to time. A considerable amount of intolerance in this area is spread by the media.

  In the Crimea, and sometimes in other regions, there are cases of intolerance between Orthodox believers and Muslims.

  The symbiosis of post-communist times and the contemporary secular movement lies in intolerance towards religion in any shape or form. This is expressed, for example, in protests against the social activeness of the Churches, their attempts to have influence on the upbringing of young people, the inculcation of an entirely atheist worldview in education, etc. Most often this form of intolerance against religions is expressed by figures from the representative and government bodies, and from academic circles.

It should be noted that very often the authorities, both at local and at national level, manipulate the Churches, using tension in relations between Orthodox Churches. On the other hand, it is often the government which becomes the final arbiter in the dead end of intolerance.


Examples of intolerance in inter-denominational relations

The Head of the UOC (KP) Patriarch Filaret approached the President with accusations against the UOC (MP) of inciting religious enmity. In his address, Patriarch Filaret stated that “Ukrainian legislation prohibits the incitement of religious enmity, yet those responsible remain unpunished, and therefore their illegal activities take on an ever greater scale.”

During a press conference on 3 September 2006 in Poltava, Patriarch Filaret also criticized the Prosecutor General for refusing to institute criminal proceedings over actions preventing religious services in UOC (KP) churches. On 5 July he had sent the Prosecutor General O. Medvedko a complaint against the actions of the Progressive Socialist Party, “Union of Orthodox Citizens”, “Proryv” [“Breakthrough”] as well as to the local eparchies of the UOC (MP) in the Crimea, and in the Donetsk, Odesssa, Rivne, Kharkiv and Chernihiv regions. “The response was in Soviet style. The upshot was a refusal. In his opinion, these organizations are deliberately inciting religious enmity and obstructing the transfer to UOC (KP) of churches.”

Conflict between believers of different Orthodox denominations, as well as cases of intolerance in relations between them, can be seen in many regions.

For example, a difficult situation has arisen in the Zhytomyr region over relations between the UOC (MP) and UOC (KP)[38]. The public relations department of the Zhytomyr Regional Administration has stated that the denominational bias of heads of enterprise and of the local authorities is fostering inter-denominational tension. For example, in Irshansk (Volodymr-Volynsky district) a local charismatic congregation has been unable to reach an understanding with the settlement council. The problems lie in the latter refusing to lease the congregation premises or to consider their application at a council session, as well as in discrediting of their activities by the local UOC (MP) congregation. Representatives of the charismatic congregation are planning to organize protest actions aimed at achieving recognition of their right to carry out religious activities.

Religious vandalism

2006 was a record as against recent years in the number of fires in places of worship. Although the majority of these were caused by lack of care with fire, there were also cases of arson.

The Father Superior of the Kyiv Vasilyansky Monastery of the UGCC Father Vasyl Tuchapets informs that in the morning of 27 December an arson attack was carried out on the Greek Catholic Church in the village of Novi Bezradychi in the Obukhivsk district of the Kyiv region. The Father Superior is under no doubt that this was a deliberate case of arson since the Church had recently be restored, and any electrical wires which could have caused a short circuit had yet to be put in.

Vandals devastated the chapel of the Roman Catholic Church in the village of Dniprove near Dnipropetrovsk. The local Roman Catholic community has been trying for over three years to restore and reinstate the remains of the old church and territory it was built on up till 1985 when it was barbarically ruined. Over recent months the church territory had become an object of interest to private individuals who wanted to get their hands on this site of sacred importance for the Roman Catholic community.  A cross had been erected at the site of the church and the foundations dug. Near the former church, old graves were found. A service was held at the end of November 2006 near the Cross, which the Head of the Kharkiv-Zaporizhya Roman Catholic Church Bishop Stanislav Padevsky took part in. The next night, unknown individuals bordered off half of the territory of the church. Local Catholics received only empty words from the local authorities in response to their numerous protests, and the seizure continued.  The Catholic community decided to build a small chapel on the foundations of the destroyed church. Having raised the money, the construction was commenced and on 12 December the chapel was erected, however it was subjected to another attack during which the roof and wall were destroyed.

In 2006 there were a lot of cases where churches were burgled, with chalices etc used in church services and icons stolen. Most of these were for reselling to collectors in Ukraine and abroad. In the Khmelnytsky region they caught criminals believed responsible for several dozen burglaries of churches in that and neighbouring regions.

During 2006 there were less cases than in the previous year of acts of vandalism or other criminal offences out of anti-Semitism. Several cases were reported where memorial signs (memorial plaques and stones) were daubed in paint in Kyiv and Lviv, and where memorials were damaged at Jewish cemeteries, etc. Not one case was recorded of public incitement of anti-Jewish sentiments by members of other faiths. In general, it should be said, that manifestations of anti-Semitism are rather of an ethnic nature, and not religious.

Religious tolerance and the media

Journalists are often thoughtless in their coverage of religious issues. They can unintentionally offend believers through their publications. An intolerant attitude to some religious organizations is also seen in the failure to understand specific aspects of their religious activities.

For example, the journalist R. Kostritsa, in naming his article “Hassidim drown their joy in horilka [like vodka][39] insisted that members of this religious movement within Judaism drink alcohol to excess, although he was writing about the celebration of the New Year according to the Jewish calendar in Uman, the Cherkasy region.

However, the majority of cases of intolerance in the mass media can be considered deliberate.[40]  One can cite several examples: the TV programme “Top Secret. Sects”, broadcast on 6 February 2006 by the TV company STB; the roundtable on the topic “Faith, society, politics” on the capital’s television channel “Kyiv” on 4 April 2006 then repeated as part of the programme “5 minutes with Volodymyr Zamansky”; special reports on Charismatic Churches on ICTV in the programme “Facts with Oksana Sokolova” (10 September 2006 and others); certain broadcasts of the programme “Sincere confession” on “Ukraina”; the broadcasting on the State Television and Radio Company “Crimea” of a film made for television called “Brides of Allah” from the “Absolutely confidential” cycle of the Russian TV channel NTV which showed numerous shots from the war in Chechnya, accompanied by subjective and not always adequate assessments of the authors; as well as other television programmes.

  Films continue to be shown on regional television channels which lead to an intolerant and antagonistic attitude to Protestant Churches. Examples of these are the film “Attempt on freedom” which was created by the civic organization “Union for the protection of the family and the individual” (Kyiv); the film “Religion, politics, extremism” and “Golden calf” made by the Dnipropetrovsk Centre for helping victims of destructive cults “Dialogue”, and so forth.

  These and other such programmes and films have led to many open letters and appeals from believers and heads of Evangelical Protestant Churches. They have called on the authorities to stop broadcasts on so-called “totalitarian sects” which give distorted or untruthful information about the activities of Evangelical Churches, twist the facts and make up video footage to strengthen the impression from a biased presentation of information.

  Nor was it a rare occurrence in 2006 to have publications in the press which, in their content, exacerbated the conflict between Orthodox Churches, and also incited religious enmity with regard to Charismatic Protestant Churches, labelling the latter “sects” or “totalitarian cults” (for example, the article “Invitation to a sect” in the Kyiv edition of “Ukrainian newspaper. Russian version” № 5 (54) from 1-7 February 2006 року; the publication “The Orthodox Church warns: Beware! Sectarians!” in the newspaper “Rovenkovtsy news” in the Luhansk region). It is also typical that most often such programmes and publications do not present any convincing and confirmed facts regarding the alleged destructive nature of the religious communities presented in the feature, while the lack of clear definition regarding the name of such a religious community or movement leads to the label “sect” being applied even to a Protestant Church which has existed in Ukraine for many years (Baptists, the Pentecostal Church, Lutherans and others).

Among what we would consider to be the most intolerant publications which spread religious intolerance, are those of authors close to the “Union of Orthodox Citizens of Ukraine”, the website of “Yedinoye otechestvo” [“Single homeland”], “URA-inform”, the newspaper “2000”, the website “Ukraina kriminalnaya”, „”, “”, and “Obozrevatel” [“Observor”]. Their attention is focused on relations between Orthodox Churches and confrontation, on assessing the activities of so-called “non-canonical” or “non-traditional” Churches and religious organizations (for example, the activities of the religious organization “Assembly of God”). Intolerant publications also appear on many other websites and in printed publications, included State-owned newspapers like “Holos Ukrainy”[41].

One cannot leave without mention material in denominational publications, for example, on the official website of the UOC (MP) website. Here the number of critical articles about the “schismatics” (especially the Head of the UOC (KP) Patriarch Filaret) and the “Uniates”[42] are close to the number of publications on the UOC (MP) itself. Intolerance with respect to other denominations is also found in some regional (eparchy) Church publications.


11.   Conclusions and recommendations

The following main violations of freedom of conscience can be highlighted:

  1. An increase (as against 2005) in intolerance in inter-denominational relations, first and foremost, between different Orthodox Churches.  There were prominent examples of aggressive behaviour from the pro-Russian organizations “Union of Orthodox Citizens of Ukraine”, Yedinoye otechestvo” [“Single homeland”], “Proryv” [“Breakthrough”] against the UOC (KP), UGCC (Chernihiv, Kharkiv, Odessa, Rivne, Kyiv) and passive connivance in their activities from the law enforcement authorities;
  2. Due to the change in government, especially in eastern and southern regions examples were recorded of representatives of the newly-elected majority favouring some denominations against others. One of the most glaring examples of this is the Mayor of Kharkiv who openly patronizes the UOC (MP) and refuses to recognize other denominations, in particular UOC (KP) or UAOC;
  3. Many cases of vandalism (words on the walls of synagogues, churches, destruction of sacred structures, memorial signs, etc);
  4. Particularly noteworthy are cases of intolerant publications in the media (the newspapers “2000”, “Holos Ukrainy”, numerous Internet publications and those of specific denominations). Especially dangerous are the “anti-sectarian” programmes on television (ICTV, TV Channel 5) which bear the hallmarks of material commissioned against certain political figures;
  5. There are still problems with the return of places of worship expropriated from religious organizations during Soviet times and with allocation of land for new buildings. Whereas in 2005 the process of allocation of land was activated, in 2006 this process folded, and there were event attempts to take back already allocated land. For example some political figures and local deputies are attempting to take away a land site from the Yalta community of the UGCC which was allocated them by the Yalta City Council in 2005;
  6. Due to flaws in legislation the right of religious peaceful assembly continues to be infringed given the demand that they obtain permission;
  7. There remain unconstitutional  and unwarranted restrictions on the right to freedom of conscience and religion for foreign nationals;
  8. The situation with registering religious organizations has not improved with infringements of the right to freedom of association continuing.

Dangerous trends

-  The folding of the work of inter-denominational councils in some regions, these having been created in the regions on the instruction of President Yushchenko in 2005.  This decreases the level of democracy and balanced consideration in decision making by local authorities;

-  The reinstatement of the State Committee on Matters of Nationalities and Religion which experts believe could lead to a folding in the democratic forms of relations between the government and religious organizations, an increase in control over religious life and possible interference in internal Church affairs.

-  The lack of reaction from law enforcement agencies to public incidents inciting religious antagonism (statement from the Head of the UOC (KP) to the Prosecutor General regarding threats from certain organizations), passive approach in investigating cases of vandalism.

Positive trends:

-  A new version of the Law “On freedom of conscience and religious organizations” was drafted with this being presented for public discussion (for the first time in Ukraine’s history). The draft law envisages more opportunities for religious organizations to defend their freedom of activity and reduces the control of the government over religious life. However experts believe that there is a danger that National Deputies could, when discussing and adopting it, make changes which would nullify its positive features and could quite likely lead to one denomination being favoured over others.

-  Almost by the end of the summer there had been an increase in the level of activeness by religious organizations themselves, including with the use of the mass media. The theme of defence of religious freedom is more often heard at theoretic and practical conferences. However with the creation of the new government coalition, there was a noticeable reduction in human rights activities among religious organizations.

Suggestions on improving the situation

1.  Ukrainian legislation should be brought into conformity with the demands of Articles 9 and 11 of the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms in the light of the court case law of the European Court of Human Rights, in particular, as regards ensuring the neutrality of the State, the possibility for a religious community to receive legal entity status and to freely practice their religion.. For this it would be desirable to apply the “Guidelines for Review of Legislation Pertaining to Religion or Belief” prepared by the OSCE / ODIHR and the Venice Commission in 2004[43]

2.  In drawing up a new version of the law on religious organizations the focus should be moved away from checking out organizations at registration stage to monitoring their activity: to accordingly shorten and simplify the registration of religious organizations, making the procedure at least analogous with the registration of civic associations.

3.  Discrimination must be eliminated when registering the charters of religious communities and the grounds clearly defined for refusing to register or for cancelling the registration of the charters of religious communities.

4.  The public authorities should not interfere in internal church matters, in particular, those concerning the creation of a single Local Orthodox Church., nor should they impose any particular single organizational structure, defend one of the sides in internal Church conflicts, etc.

5.  Effective mechanisms are needed for avoiding discrimination on religious grounds, particularly in the penal system, the social sphere and in the area of labour relations. It is also vital to make adjustments to legislation on taxation of religious organizations in order to remove discrimination against non-Christian organizations.

6.  Law enforcement agencies must react appropriately to cases of incitement to religious hostility, especially from dominant religious organizations, and parties fighting organizations which they consider to be sects..

7.  In order to eliminate discriminatory administrative practice and conflict between churches, clear legal norms should be passed stipulating the grounds, procedure and time periods for returning church property. It would also be expedient to draw up a detailed plan for returning religious property with these procedures and the time taken for each object defined. Where it is impossible to return such property, provision of some compensation should be stipulated, in particular, for the construction of new buildings of worship.

8.  Local authorities should review legislative acts they have passed which establish discriminatory provisions, and also additional limitations, not foreseen by the law, on freedom of religion when holding peaceful gatherings, renting premises, allocating land and returning religious buildings. General principles should also be clearly outlined for the allocation of sites for building places of worship.

9.  Public control should be established over the adoption of legislation for regulating freedom of thought, conscience and religion, for example, by carrying out monitoring, including on issues pertaining to the restitution of property expropriated by the Soviet regime, introducing amendments to laws regulating the right to education and to those on land issues.

10.  Permanent joint Commissions with representatives of both religious organizations and of the government should be created in order to resolve issues of mutual concern (property, cultural monuments, the family, education, etc).

11.  Courses on religious tolerance should be introduced for journalists as well as courses on the right to religious freedom for personnel of the public authorities.


[1] Prepared by Volodymyr Yavorsky, UHHRU on the basis of a Religious Information Service of Ukraine (RISU) Report prepared as part of the project “Monitoring of religious freedom in Ukraine with particular focus on religious tolerance”. The full text of the report is available on the RISU website::

[2]  “Human Rights in Ukraine – 2004” and “Human Rights in Ukraine – 2005”.  Kharkiv: Folio, 2005 (and 2006)  Available in both Ukrainian and English at: and

[3] Ukraine’s religious network (table of changes, with date for 1 January of the relevant year) // Religious Panorama №2, 2007. pp. 66-74.

[4]  The religious issue in the “Memorandum of National Unity” in the RISU burning issue: “New unity or new schism?” //

[5] UOC MP refuses to take part in joint prayers on Independence Day  //;11472/

[6] The Head of UOC MP congratulated the Prime Minister and spoke of its believers’ joy. //;11319/

[7] Alexei II hopes that the new Ukrainian Prime Minister will seek good relations with Russia and will support UOC MP. //;11312/

[8]  Russian Orthodox publicist and missionary against representatives of UOC MP taking part in Ukraine’s Independence Day celebrations in St Sophia Cathedral //;11513/

[9] «V. Yanukovych considers UOC MP “more equal” than the other Churches, for which its journalists were first to congratulate him on his “chancellorship” //;13702/

[10] Victor Yanukovych did not support the initiative on lowering tariffs on gas for religious organizations” //;13784/

[11] Resolution of the Cabinet of Ministers N. 1575 from 8 November 2006.  This was a reinstatement, albeit with a broader mandate, of the previous State Committee on Religious Affairs, which had been disbanded in April 2005. In May of that year a State Department on Religious Affairs had been created within the structure of the Ministry of Justice [translator].

[12] Lesya Kovalenko. Expert Opinion: The State Committee on Religious Affairs has been illicitly reinstated //;12791/

[13] Ludmila Fylypovych. Expert Opinion: The Cabinet of Ministers again wants to directly manage religious processes in the country //;12818/

[14]  Lviv Regional Brother of the UAOC are outraged by the reinstatement of the State Committee on Religious Affairs and the appointment as its head of a member of the Communist Party //;13337/

[15] See.:;10725/

[16] Hennady Druzenko: Through tradition and freedom  //;10725/

[17] Available in English at:

[18] Cf..:

[19] Resolution of the Verkhovna Rada of the Ukrainian SSR “On the procedure for bringing into force the Law of Ukraine “On freedom of conscience and religious organizations” from 23 April 1991; the Presidential Decree “On measures for returning property connected with worship to religious organizations” № 53 from 22 June1994 and the Presidential Decree “On urgent measures to finally overcome the consequences of the totalitarian policy of the former USSR with regard to religion and the restoration of the violated rights of the Church and religious organizations” from 21 March 2002. These have been analyzed in depth in the article by Hennady Druzenko “Restitution the Ukrainian way: the restoration of historical justice or a trap for the Church?” //;8708/

[20] Lesya Kovalenko. Analytical assessment of the draft law “On the principles for returning buildings of worship and property of religious organizations” //;10493/

[21] Draft law on amendments to Article 92 of the Land Code (on the right of religious organizations to permanent use of land) – National Deputy V. Stretovych from 04.07.2006 №1101 and draft law submitted by O. Turchynov from 04.10.2006 №2260.

[22] More can be found on this subject in English at: and under freedom of conscience..

[23] Text of the Decree of the Council of People’s Commissars of the UkrSSR: Separation of the State and schools from the Church”, edited by Kh. Cherlyunchakevych, Kharkiv 1926, pp. 5-6

[24]  It should also be stressed that the relevant amendments were introduced to the civil legislation of the Union and of the Republics: Article 11. The fundamental principles of civil legislation of the USSR and its Republics from 31 May 1991 // № 2211-1, Vedomosti SSSR (1991), v. 26, p. 733.

[25]  Maxim Vasin: Realities of religious freedom in Ukraine: facts from 2006  //;14799/   

[26] The Crimean Prosecutor’s Office: the Crimean authorities are creating the grounds for conflict by refusing to resolve the land problems of religious communities //;12387/

[27]  On the conceptual principles for studying subjects with a spiritual and moral focus in general educational institutions // Decision of a panel of the Ministry of Education and Science from 28 June 2006, Protocol № 8/1-2.

[28]  Official website of the Central Election Commission. //

[29] Priests of the UGCC do not have the right to take part in the elections, or to be involved in financial operations //;8775/

[30] The President has had meetings with members of the All-Ukrainian Council of Churches and Religious Organizations //;9354/; Yury Reshetnikov, 2006: Religious Dimension //;13957/

[31] More detail in: Yury Reshetnikov: Look who’s come! Religious and denominational sympathies of Verkhovna Rada Deputies, 2006. //;11233/

[32]  Much more detail can be found about the original controversy over identification numbers in Human Rights in Ukraine – 2005 (in the analogous section):  The passport mentioned here is the “internal passport or document each Ukrainian has, whereas those wishing to travel abroad obtain a separate passport for this purpose (translator)”,

[33] Order of the STA and MIA “On approving amendments to the Procedure for adding a note to the passport of a Ukrainian citizen regarding the identification number of an individual paying tax and other compulsory payments" (6 July 2006 №386-663) //

[34] UN Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Intolerance and of Discrimination Based on Religion or Belief (Resolution № 36/55 from 25 November1981).

[35] Yury Reshetnikov: The ignorance of some National Deputies has ceased to be startling … Unfortunately //;12677/

[36] S. Harakas: Human rights from the perspective of Eastern Orthodoxy, in “Religious freedom and human rights. Theological aspects. Lviv, 2000, p. 235 (in Ukrainian)

[37] UNESCO Declaration of Principles on Tolerance (1995)


[38] The activities of the Orthodox Churches of the Zhytomyr region in the context of  the social and political life of the region //;12624/

[39] The newspaper “Kommersant – Ukraina”, 25 September 2006:

[40] Maxim Vasin: Realities of religious freedom in Ukraine: facts from 2006  //;14799/

[41] Irpeniada. The Verkhovna Rada’s newspaper demonstrates religious bias //;12379/

[42]  Uniate refers to the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church.  It is not a term which the latter themselves use, since they feel it to have negative associations (translator)

[43] Freedom of Religious and Worship in Ukraine within the context of compliance with European standards  (in Ukrainian) / Edited by Volodymyr Yavorsky / Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union and the Centre for Legal and Political Studies “SIM”.  Kharkiv: Folio, 2005. Available on the UHHRU website at:

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