Religion-based violations against the religious community of the Tithes Monestary of the Nativity of the Most Holy Theotokos (Ukrainian Orthodox Church)

Historical Background

As early as in 1936, the Presidium of the City Council of Kiev (under the USSR rule) decided to demolish the Church of the Tithes.

Only in 2005, after Ukraine declared its independence, near the foundation of the destroyed church, a tabernacle temple was established.

In 2006, upon the blessing of His Beatitude Metropolitan Vladimir of Kiev, Pascha Liturgy was served on the spot of the first cathedral of the Kievan Rus’ period, the Cathedral of the Most Holy Theotokos “of the Tithes”.

In 2007, on the same site the newly-formed Church of the Tithes was built by the Ukraininan Orthodox Church.

On July 9, 2009, the Synod of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church decided to establish the Tithes (Desyatinny) Monastery of the Nativity of the Most-Holy Mother of God on the same land spot where the Church located.

 

Case Study

On January 25, 2018, representatives of the “C14” and other right-wing radical organizations together with MP Igor Lutsenko committed an assault of the Tithe (Desiatinny) Monastery. At night, two radicals tried to set fire to the temple, for which they were arrested. As evidenced by the video posted on the Web, during the detention, they shouted at the monastery’s brethren: “I’ll burn you, bitch! You’re a KGB officer. I’ll kick you now, okay? You are a slut that has no place here; I tell you this in Russian. To you, clowns in skirts, there is no respect.” It is significant that the radicals fearlessly recorded their actions fearlessly on the video.

On the same day, on January 25, the Kiev police reported the detention of two men for arson of the monastery in accordance with Art. 208 of the Code of Criminal Procedure. In fact, criminal proceedings were opened under part 2 of Article 15, part 2 of Article 139 of the Criminal Code (attempted intentional destruction or damage to property).

On January 27, the Kiev court sentenced the arsonists for 2 months or bailment of 2 million 200 thousand UAH for each.

The day after the trial of the arsonists, the judge of Shevchenko District Court, Tatiana Levitskaya, who sent the radicals from the “C14” under arrest, found a leaflet with threats on the windshield of her car. A note with citations from the Constitution was placed under the wiper of her car, hinting at the biased decision on the case of right-wing radicals. On the reverse side of the note a family was depicted (father, mother and two children). Levitskaya, who has a husband and two children, believes that this is “a threat to her personally and her family, in connection with her execution of justice in Ukraine.” On this occasion, she appealed to the police. In addition, the judge believes that the attackers followed her car. The incident was indirectly confirmed by the press secretary of Shevchenko court Olga Piven. According to her, in the near future official information about this will appear on the site of the court.

On January 29, Igor Lutsenko bailed out “C14” right-wing radicals Alexei Shemotyuk and Alexander Gorban, convicted for the arson of the Tithes (Desyatinny) Monastery. He also argued that aggressive young men who threatened the monastery’s brethren and shouted: “I’ll burn you, wretch! You’re a KGB officer. I’ll kick you now, okay? You are a bitch that has no place here, I tell you this in Russian. For you, clowns in skirts, there is no respect,” are none other than architects, “sensitive to violation of the rules of urban planning, to any dissonance in the city landscape”. Near the temple they shouted their speeches “Down with the Moscow priest!”, stuck propaganda leaflets on the church and tried to break inside. The “C14” activists justifued their actions by saying that they “came to dismantle the illegally built construction on the land, which was self-grabbed”.

On February 1, at the meeting on the topic “Illegal construction on the territory of the National Museum of Ukraine” in the building of the committees of the Verkhovna Rada, which Igor Lutsenko had assembled, one of the “activists” again promised to demolish the church if the authorities did not do it:

“If you do not fulfill your duties, firstly, the guys will continue to sit in jail, and secondly, there will be new ones,” the man said. Because they are not the only people who said that you need to burn this structure … If you do not fulfill your duties, it will happen without you. And I want to say that the responsibility in this case will not lie on those people who will demolish this structure. But it will lie on you. Because this casuistics – whether the President had the right to call for construction, or had no right, whether the Ministry of Culture fulfilled its duties, who should sue … Sorry, please. On Saturday, 5,000 people are going to gather on the venue and they couldn’t care less who has the right, who does not have the right. This is our land, it belongs to the community, and we want it to have there. Nobody asked us – the community – whether there can be this cross, this chapel. This is a museum, and it belongs to the community. If you do not do it, then we will.”

On February 3, right-wing radicals announced an action in support of the arsonists of the Monastery. Fearing that activists would go from their venue to organize provocations near the monastery, indifferent believers gathered for a prayer service in defense of the monastery and its brothers. Three thousand believers of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church gathered for a prayer service in defense of the monastery from the radicals who had threatened to destroy the monastery. The monastery was being defended by the Orthodox faithful during 10 hours.

On February 5brethren of the Tithes Monastery filed an application to the Court of Appeal in Kiev in which monks request to release the radicals, who had tried to set fire to the monastery, and offer to bail them out. It is written by the site of the monastery.

On the same day, near the Monastery, another prayer service was held in support of the monastery and its brethren, which gathered more than 500 Orthodox believers.

On February 7, The Court of Appeal overturned the previous preventive measure (arrest for 2 months with the right of bail of ₴ 2.2 mln.). The accused of the arson of the temple were released on bail of 10 people’s deputies who came to the court session. The judge also ordered the suspects not to leave Kiev without the permission of the prosecutor or the investigator and to surrender their passports for travelling abroad.

On February 8, The Ministry of Culture of Ukraine obliged the National History Museum of Ukraine (NHMU) via the court to vacate the territory where Tithes Monastery is located. The respective document is placed on the site of the Ministry of Culture.

“It was decided to take immediate measures to remove obstacles to the use of the land plot granted to the National History Museum of Ukraine for permanent use for the operation and maintenance of the museum’s buildings located at 2 Vladimirskaya St. in Shevchenkivskyi district of Kiev, in particular, through the presentation of appropriate lawsuits,” the Ministry of Culture said. “Illegal buildings – a small architectural form – is located on the land of particularly valuable territories and leads to damage to cultural heritage sites – monuments of national importance on the territory to be protected within the UNESCO World Heritage “Kiev: St. Sophia Cathedral and adjoining monastic buildings, Kiev- Pechersk Lavra ” the city of Vladimir – the progeny of ancient Kiev with the foundation of the Assumption church (the church of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin) of V-IX century”.

According to the document, the Ministry itself undertook to help the museum in every possible way to win the court and remove Desyatinny Monastery, called by the Ministry of Culture as “SAF” (small architectural form – Ed.), from the territory owned by NHMU.

The head of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church’s Law Department, Protopriest Alexander Bakhov, stated that Tirhes Monastery is located legally in the aforesaid territory. “To date the ownership of the chapel is registered in the roster of property rights to real estate in favor of the religious community of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Nativity of the Most Holy Theotokos,” said the head of the Law Department. “It clearly indicates where this temple is located and how it is called. The basis was a court decision of 2012. In particular, the decision of the court prescribes those circumstances that have become the linchpin for the right of possession. At present they are valid, they have not been canceled by anyone and the alleged unlawfulness of the construction does not correspond to reality.”

On February 9depuities of the Kiev Council Commission for Urban Planning, Architecture and Land Use supported the petition initiated by pagan Viacheslav Tolpyga urging to demolish the church of Tithe. The deputies recommended that mayor of Kiev Vitaliy Klichko support the petition and ‘instruct the structural units of the executive body of the Kiev City Council to take all measures envisaged by the current legislation aimed at eliminating offenses as soon as possible.”

Note that the Tithes Monastery is located ten meters from the ancient pagan temple and a hundred meters from the construction of the head of the Kiev Patriarchate Filaret: a modern residence made of concrete and glass in Desyatinny Lane on the site of the demolished historical buildings of the 19th century and directly on the foundation of Prince Vladimir’s Palace, built in 10th century.

In 2017, native neo-pagans demanded the demolition of the monument to the Baptist of Rus Vladimir the Great and the abolition of the coat of arms of Kiev – a symbol of Christianity “depicting the Jewish Archistratigus Michael.”

It is noteworthy that the head of the pagan community Viacheslav Tolpyga entered in 2014 in the commission on the protection of cultural heritage and cultural values of the Public Council under the Ministry of Culture of Ukraine.

Pagans are specifically engaged in it. There is an organization “Kvitka paporoti” (Fern Flower), which is headed by Tolpyga. He calls himself a god, priest and “pedal” this situation with the arson of churches,” says Archimandrite Gideon (Abbot of the Tithes Monastery). Moreover, the priest is convinced that the self-described pagan leader is also engaged in arson, “since he has no one, he was expelled from the pagan brotherhood in Kiev” for stealing the donations of pagans.

Father Gideon stressed that pagans offer their sacrifices next to the Ukrainian Orthodox Church monastery. “Literally within 20 meters from the church, every Sunday, especially after our worship, several pagans gather – 5-7 persons from the whole of Kiev.”

On February 10, after being let out of the detention center (SIZO), architects-arsonists of Tithes Monastery of the UOC asked to qualify their actions as a precedent and the turning point for opening the “cultural and religious front.” Such a statement was made at the press-conference in Ukraine crisis media center, dedicated to the situation around Desiatinny Monastery.

On February 13, Radical Dmitry Reznichenko, the leader of the organization New Fire, on the air of the political talk show on Zik TV, which was invited by the director of the Department of Religious and Ethnic Affairs of the Ministry of Culture Andrei Yurash, said that if it is impossible to legislatively restrict the hostile organization it must be burned.

The host said that some people prefer to solve the issues as they see fit. “Some consider the construction near the remains of the Tithes Church as the temple of God, others – as an illegal structure and are trying to burn it. Is it reasonable, how balanced is this decision?” asked the Zik journalist.

“And this you are already addressing me as a representative of the side that tried to burn,” remarked Reznichenko to the words of the host. “This is the only possible option. Andrei (Yurash) said the right thing that when there are no legislative mechanisms to restrict the activities of an openly hostile organization … nature does not tolerate emptiness, then if the state is not going to fight an organization hostile to the state, this must be done by society.”

To the question of the host who decides whether it is hostile or not, and if two thousand-strong crowds gather and each has its own opinion about faith, “someone wants to ride a tank or burn down”, the activist gave his vision: “Here we deviate a little from the religious topic. Any controversial historical issues in the end are decided in a mob-to-mob fighting.”

March 5. In a petition “On Securing the Right to Freedom of Religion for the Faithful of the UOC and Public Order around the Tithes Church (Chapel)”  that collected more than 20,000 signatures as of March 5, Kiev residents ask the mayor to ensure the existing property right, not to prevent believers from exercising their right to freedom of religion in Kiev and not to allow the incitement of religious hatred, writes the “Capital”.

In this vein, the petition notes that the property rights to the Tithes Church are registered properly in the State Register of the rights to real estate to the religious community of the UOC the Tithes Church of the Nativity of the Most Holy Theotokos in the Shevchenkovsky District of Kiev.

The petition was sent to the Chairman of the Kiev City State Administration V. Klitchko on February 8. 12,000 signatures were collected under the petition in a period of three days. For consideration by the City Council, the petition must collect 10,000 within a period of 90 days.

On March 18, 2018, right-wing radicals from C14 “Sich” and the party “Traditions and Order” again came to the Tithes Monastery to arrange a provocation. A small group of right-wing radicals came to the walls of monastery to arrange a “performance”. The radicals posted a video about their action on their Facebook page. The activists lit flares and started shouting “Get FSB out of Ukraine!”, “Crimea is ours!”, “Glory to the nation – death to enemies!”

A clergyman, who followed the shouts, was questioned if he knew that on March 18 was the anniversary of the occupation of the Crimea. Hearing in reply that the priest considered the Crimea Ukrainian, they began to accuse his “colleagues”, in particular the viceroy of the Kiev-Pechersk Lavra, Metropolitan Pavel of Vyshgorod and Chernobyl, that he does not consider the Crimea Ukrainian, but they failed to repeat what Vladyka Pavel said.

When asked about the purpose of their arrival, they said that the monastery was built without documents, and when they heard that there were documents, they began to assert that they had been received illegally not so long before.

Eventually, radicals withdrew, under the pretext of the frost and seeing parishioners gathering at the monastery.

The question of the legitimacy of the construction of the Tithes Church in Kiev has been commented not once by the head of the Legal Department of the UOC, Protopriest Alexander Bakhov, who showed the documents on the basis of which the temple was built.