Ukraine bans the Ukrainian Orthodox Church

20 maart 2024 | Forum for Democracy Intl

Questions asked by EU Parliamentarians Marcel de Graaff (FVD) and Joachim Kuhs (ID)

In recent years, the Ukrainian Government has consistently applied ever more pressure on the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, which has enjoyed a central role in the spiritual life of Ukrainian society for centuries. Now, the Parliament of Ukraine is considering an outright ban on that church, pushing preachers and clergy to merge with other confessions.

  1. Will the Commission urge the Ukrainian Government to withdraw this ban?
  2. Does the Commission consider this to be an obstacle to further negotiations on EU membership, since Ukraine does not guarantee freedom of religion and ensure equal treatment of all confessions, thus clearly going against the values on which the European Union is founded?


Answers given by Olivér Várhelyi on behalf of the European Commission

The Commission is aware that, since Russia’s invasion, Ukraine has taken legal measures against the Moscow-affiliated Ukrainian Orthodox Church, taking into account its full support by the Moscow Patriarchate of the Russian Orthodox Church.

These measures include sanctions against some members of the church hierarchy responsible for supporting Russia’s war of aggression and conducting searches of various church premises in application of legal standards and practices.

The aim of these measures is to prevent foreign interference from Russia through a religious entity, while not targeting ordinary followers of the church.

The draft legislative act to which the Honourable Members refer has been adopted by the Ukrainian Parliament.

The Constitution of Ukraine, as well as related legislation, provides for the right to freedom of religion and belief. As the Commission pointed out in the Enlargement Package adopted on 8 November 2023, in general, Ukrainian public authorities enforce these rights. Incidents of hate speech and intimidation due to religion are infrequent.

The Commission continues close dialogue on human rights with Ukraine, including on freedom of religion and belief.


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