The Case of Bishop Gedeon: The SBU’s New Shady Scheme to Forbid Any Ukrainian Citizen From Re-entering Ukraine

Translated by Ollie Richardson & Angelina Siard


Ukraine deprived of nationality and deported from the country a major hierarch of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (Moscow Patriarchate) – the Abbot of the Tithe monastery Gedeon Kharon.

It happened when the priest came back from the US, where he communicated with congressmen about church oppression in Ukraine.

Interestingly, it was precisely Kharon who filed a lawsuit against the decision of the Rada to request Tomos. And on February 14th a meeting was scheduled in which the Bishop of Makarovsky was supposed to act as the claimant.

Thus, the expulsion of the UOC-MP is a purely political punishment. “Strana” found out the details of the case.

Gedeon’s biography

Gedeon (non-religious name – Yury) Kharon was born in Odessa. He was confirmed in Ukraine, but in the late 80’s he moved to Russia, where he took monastic vows.

Since 1991 he was a clergyman in the American Orthodox Church. 8 years later he returned to Ukraine and started service in the UOC-MP.

He became the deputy of the Tithe monastery in 2009. Now he officially has the rank of: Bishop of Makarovsky, Vicar of the Diocese of Kiev.

What is Father Gedeon known for

Gedeon Kharon is the Abbot of the Tithe monastery, which was built on the foundations of the ancient church of the same name.

Because of this Kharon has been repeatedly attacked by nationalists from C14, Bratstvo, and other organisations under the control of the SBU. They demanded to remove the monastery. Because of clashes over the temple some activists were detained, but the court later released them.

In October Father Gedeon and some more dioceses filed three more claims to the Supreme Court concerning the April resolution of the Verkhovna Rada – when parliamentarians appealed to Constantinople for Tomos of Autocephaly. Kharon demanded to cancel the document since it contains state interference in church affairs.

It is interesting that the next hearing on this case was supposed to take place on February 14th.

On the threshold of summer Father Gedeon was added to the Mirotvorets website – like many other priests of the UOC-MP who actively spoke against autocephaly.

In the autumn the campaign against Kharon intensified. The people’s deputy Igor Lutsenko, whose assistants include the head of “C14” Evgeny Karas, published a photo of an alleged Russian passport of Father Gedeon.

This, apparently, also became the formal reason for Kharon’s deportation. In actuality – his public work in Ukraine.

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How was the “enemy of the state” deported

The deputy of the Tithe monastery Bishop Gedeon was detained in Borispol last night.

“The deputy of the Tithe monastery of the capital, the bishop of Makarovsky of UOC-MP Gedeon (Kharon), was detained at Borispol airport, without having entered Ukraine after his visit to the US,” stated the press service of the UOC-MP.

On his Facebook page, Gedeon himself stated that he was being prepared for deportation, and showed a protocol where it is said that his passport was confiscated.

“Pray! Detained at the Borispol airport! Prepared for deportation”

he wrote

Gedeon’s secretary, Protodeacon Antony, declared from the airport that Gedeon had been deprived of his nationality. And Gedeon later started a broadcast on Facebook and explained why he isn’t being allowed to enter Ukraine.

“I am in Borispol airport, at passport control where I wasn’t allowed through, apparently because my nationality was nullified and ‘invalid’ – although 15 days ago I took a plane and there were no problems, there were no court rulings nor a ruling of the president – apparently because my passport was allegedly lost,” stated the priest.

The press secretary of State Border Service Oleg Slobodyan explained that “border guards implemented the order issued by a law enforcement agency” (SBU). According to him, bishop Gedeon “is involved in anti-Ukrainian propaganda and is an active adherent of the ‘Russian world'”.

Later Slobodyan published a video of the deportation of the priest. He stated that the latter took a plane to Frankfurt.

“It became clear that the passport of the citizen of Ukraine that was shown to them isn’t valid – besides this, it is deprived of the nationality of our state,” said the State Border Service, explaining the expulsion of the priest.

The department also published a video of Gedeon in detention on the border.

Gedeon’s deportation revealed an interesting scheme of not allowing citizens who the ruling regime is dissatisfied with to enter Ukraine – but there are no grounds to jail them.

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A Ukrainian international passport was confiscated from Gedeon on the grounds that since January 24th 2019 it has been listed in the register of lost passports. It’s not clear how it could end up there, since on January 24th archimandrite Gedeon was outside of Ukraine and thus technically couldn’t have written the corresponding statement.

Nevertheless, the passport of the priest was confiscated in the presence of witnesses, thereby having deprived the archimandrite of the grounds to enter the territory of Ukraine.

Apparently, Gedeon’s speech in the US, where he complained about the Ukrainian authorities, became the last straw for the patience of the SBU.

What Gedeon did in the US

The day prior Yury Kharon met congressmen in the US. On February 5th he visited Congress at the invitation of the US government.

There, bishop Gedeon highlighted the situation connected to the violation of the international rights of believers and also spoke about attacks on the temples of the UOC-MP, the beating up of believers, and the oppression of priests by radical organisations.

Later, answering the question about whether or not he is afraid that, after his speech in front of the US government, the Ukrainian authorities will put more pressure on the UOC-MP and him personally, the bishop answered: “I am not responsible for the authorities of Ukraine. Now nobody can say whether or not there will be pressure”.

“It’s time for border guards to start an apology flashmob”

In the story with Kharon there are several questions. If he was deprived of Ukrainian nationality, then it could only have been done via a presidential decree. However, such a document was never published.

The law of Ukraine clearly postulates that a person can have even ten citizenships – but if they have a Ukrainian passport, then in legal relations with our country they act as its citizens.

Therefore in order to not deprive the priest of his passport, the authorities invented a cunning trick – the invalidation of the document because of its loss (or, for example, because of an inadequate procedure of issuance) and, thus, the confiscation of an international passport too (after all, it is issued on the basis of an internal passport).

I.e., Kharon must now declare that he didn’t lose his passport, submit a claim in court, etc. And for this purpose it would be quite good to return to Ukraine – where he isn’t allowed to enter without documents.

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It is interesting that against the background of the story with Father Gedeon there is a trial concerning the case of Ulana Suprun, who has a US passport and holds the position of the Acting Minister of Healthcare – which is directly forbidden by legislation. However, Suprun is defended by the entire government vertical, and in court her interests are represented by the Minister of Justice himself.

At the same time, neither Ulana Suprun nor her representatives in court haven’t disproved the existence of a US passport.

On social networks there is already talk about how those who are objectionable for the regime are deprived of a passport.

“The great minds of the SBU generated the richest idea.

Here it is: it is inconvenient to simply throw certain people in prison on far-fetched charges. Neither the Embassy nor laypeople will understand it. But there is a need to shut them up. That’s why the SBU struggled with this issue for a long time: how to think of a way of ousting objectionable citizens from the territory of Ukraine? They weren’t very successful: according to the Constitution a citizen of Ukraine can’t be refused entry into Ukraine.

It was still possible to invent something for those who previously hastily demanded citizenship and received a passport in 2014-2015 – as was the case with Saakashvili. But things are more difficult with those who were actually born in Ukraine.

But they found a way out, and it is simple and elegant: we fabricate a statement for a loss of passport; we invalidate the document; we declare the lack of grounds for entrance; profit!

I will repeat, the idea is very rich. According to such a scheme it is possible to deprive absolutely any Ukrainian citizen of the right to enter Ukraine. Only the desire to do it is needed,” wrote the journalist Yury Tkachev on Telegram.

“It’s time for Ukrainian border guards to start a flashmob [a jokey reference to this story – ed]: Ukrainian citizens cannot be deprived of citizenship and thrown out of Ukraine,” wrote the journalist Denys Ivanesko.

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