Translated by Ollie Richardson & Angelina Siard
Nationalists threatened to kidnap the son of a Transcarpathian priest of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church [Moscow Patriarchate – ed] and occupy several temples if he opposes a transition to the Orthodox Church of Ukraine (OCU).
Father Vitaly Kremen of the Yasenyansky district of the Khust diocese of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church received threats from nationalists and supporters of the Kiev Patriarchate who occupied the temple of Saint George in the settlement of Yasinia in the Rakhovsky district of the Transcarpathian region.
The raiders did not stop at occupying the temple, and thus started to threaten to kidnap the priest’s son. The Dean of the church told the Union of Orthodox Journalists that the aggressors, together with the so-called hierarch of the OCU Varsonofy, are going to capture three more temples in his district.
“Our Deanery is on the border of Transcarpathia and the Ivano-Frankovsk region, that’s why these people can implement their task of occupying temples here”explained Father Vitaly
In other areas of Transcarpathia it was succeeded to repel the raider attacks on the property of temples of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church. The aggressors say that 70 people – participants of a meeting and alleged members of the parish – voted for the transition of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church community to the new church structure. However, in reality much less people were present at the meeting. The activist Vladimir Girya announced on Facebook the transition of the community to the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Kiev Patriarchate (not to the OCU) in the morning of February 3rd, while the meeting began only 2 hours later.
Supporters of the Kiev Patriarchate brought a crowd along with them and enlisted in voting for the transition only those who are registered but don’t live in the settlement. Some inhabitants who supported the occupation of the temple haven’t attended church services in several years. In general, a Catholic who came “to throw out the Moscow priest” was one of the ardent activists.
“It’s not even about their capture of the temple, it’s the fact that they sow discord, threaten to get people fired, set fire to houses, capture their business,” said Father Vitaly. Despite the fact that transitions to the OCU are presented in the media as being “peaceful and friendly”, the community continues to resist both terror and seizures. 15 people remained with the Abbot.
However, the media don’t mention that in this case it is not about the entire “settlement of Yasinia”, but only about a small part of it – one street in fact, and the local temple was always visited by 15-20 people. It is precisely they who make up the community of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church.
“We experienced real stress on this day, like all the local community. However people do not give up, they will continue to serve in a house” reported the Dean. According to him, the occupation of the temple was initiated by only several people: the former chairman of the village council Dmitry Polyak, the representative of the deputy corps of the Rakhovsky regional council Vasily Verbitsky, the official of the Rakhovsky regional state administration Andrey Delyatinchuk, and also the involved activists of nationalist groups.
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