Eyewitnesses of the capture say that during the capture supporters of the “Orthodox Church of Ukraine” (OCU) walked over children and women, and the leading “priest” broke the lock on the church with a crowbar.
On April 14th 2019, during the Sunday church service, supporters of the OCU stormed and captured the temple of Saints Cosmas and Damian in the village of Rozvazh in the Ostrozhsky district of the Rovno region, reported the Information-Educational Department of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (Moscow Patriarchate).
“People were grabbed by their hands and hair, their clothes were torn, children fell, they walked over children… despite everything,” said the parishioner Valentina. “Their ‘priest’, Lukashik, used a crowbar to break the lock on the hut on the territory of the temple, self-willingly installed a second lock, and then started waving the crowbar around. People said that either the police later took away the crowbar, or he surrendered it, I did not see it, because I ran away”.
The Sunday church service in the temple, which about 100 parishioners of Ukrainian Orthodox Church (Moscow Patriarchate) gathered for, started at 08:00, and at 09:00 supporters of the OCU rushed into the church directly in the middle of the service.
“Their first provocation managed to be stopped. The police, who brought the provokers outside, helped and we continued the service. But they did not calm down, and when they tried to storm for the second time, they just started to beat people and throw them out of the church. This time the police decided not to intervene and just watched on as our people were beaten,” said Valentina.
According to her calculations, there were 120 people from the OCU, the majority of who was transported to the temple. From the local residents there were those who either do not go to church at all, or go once or twice per year. Nevertheless, they tried to prove that they have the right to occupy the temple.
“They showed us some pieces of paper, allegedly they registered the community of the OCU here and they have full right to the temple. But what right can they speak of when we, the parishioners of our church who constantly go to it, did not make any decisions and today, as always, went to service on Sunday. We were almost as numerous as them, but they transported people even from Ostrog, but all of us are the real community here, were defenceless against these robbers,” shared the woman.
She said that she personally called the police two times: “I said that people were beaten, but the police did not react. I was told that their guys are there, that they are maintaining order. But the police stood behind the gate, they didn’t even come onto the church territory, they made two enter, and that’s all”.
Soon, when believers of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (Moscow Patriarchate in the district learnt about what was happening here, they started to gather in the village in support, but the activists did not allow them to enter the territory of the temple, having locked the gates. The parishioners were blocked by an aggressive crowd of OCU supporters.
Moreover, as eyewitnesses described, the telephone of a woman who filmed everything from beginning to end was pulled out from her pocket, and all the files had been deleted. People suspect that the law enforcement officers themselves could have done this.
“According to people, a police officer stood with that phone, and then it turned out that all the files were gone. When she wrote a statement to these police officers, a few minutes later her phone had been delivered, but all the files on it had been removed. She went to again write a statement about the missing files and asked to be told who returned the phone. But all of this was fruitless”.
After having cut off the locks and beaten people, supporters of the OCU, as eyewitnesses report, applauded themselves and started to inventory property that does not belong to them.
Union of Orthodox Journalists
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