The Church of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross in Uhryniv village, Volyn region was built in the 19th century by the confession of the Russian Orthodox Church. The parish of Uhryniv village as a legal successor of the Russian Orthodox Church has been continually using the church since 1946. Despite the fact the parish hasn’t received any eviction notice so far they were driven out of the church by local entrepreneur Andriy Turak.
This person is an exclusive owner of most business property in the village and simultaneously he’s a deputy of Volyn Regional Council. In fact, his religious preferences were given to a different denomination – the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Kyiv Patriarchate. A. Turak personally managed “village gatherings” where the church lot was determined without any compliance with regular proceedings.
Afterwards individuals hired by Mr. Turak forced the local congregation out of their church. By seizing the church its beneficiary protopriest Rostyslav Sapozhnyk (local resident) was heavily beaten with a stick resulting in head hematoma.
Despite numerous appeals to law enforcement bodies by parishioners of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church the investigation hasn’t been made yet due to the great influence Mr. Turak has on local authorities. At the end of May the problem was exacerbated because A. Turak demanded that father Rostyslav evicts from the house built by the parish of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church.
At the moment protopriest Rostyslav together with his wife and two under-age children are scared of the raid attack on his house and doesn’t hope to have local authorities interfere to effectively handle this issue. Why A. Turak resorts to these actions can be explained by the fact that father Rostyslav Sapozhnyk remains committed to his religious viewpoints and the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church having turned down a proposal of A. Turak to pass to the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Kyiv Patriarchate.
To learn more about religious freedom infringements committed against the UOC believers you are encouraged to consult our detailed reports and statements:
- Collection of Information Materials and Documents “Facts, Evidence and Claims Regarding Violations of the Rights of Believers and Religious Organizations of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church in 2014-2016”.
- Written Statement of the NGO “Public Advocacy” within the United Nations 28th Universal Periodic Review on Ukraine.
- Written Statement of the NGO “Public Advocacy” on the violations against the Ukrainian Orthodox Church within the United Nations 37-th Regular Session.
- Statement of the NGO “Public Advocacy”