«Religious freedom today: ORTHODOX CHURCHES»



ORGANIZER: NGO PublicAdvocacy – non-governmental human rights organization having consultative status with UN ECOSOC


Violations of the rights of Christians in the Balkans as a consequence of nationalism in religious policy. Is there a way out of the situation?


In 2019, the rights of Christians belonging to the Serbian Orthodox Church continue to be violated in Montenegro and Macedonia. The Government of Montenegro has initiated a bill which is viewed by believers as a discriminatory attempt to deprive them of their historical cultural heritage; clerics of the SOC do not have their permits to reside in the country prolonged; the authorities do not allow Christians to worship. The situation in Macedonia has already become the subject of litigation at the ECHR in light of the violation of Christians’ rights; Archbishop Jovan Vraniskovski was subjected to more than 5 years of imprisonment due to his religious activity. These and many other facts testify to the similarity of tendencies in Montenegro and in Macedonia – the official authorities exclusively support those denominations which in the spirit of nationalism provide mutual political support to states. The rule of law and human rights are grossly violated. Is there a solution to these problems with the help of law and policy?


Rights of believers of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church. Problems in relations with the state. Is there any thaw?


During 2014-2018 there were recorded numerous violations of the UOC believers’ rights in Ukraine: seizures of temples, threats and persecutions of Christians, acts of discrimination by radicals and government officials. The number and intensity of rights violations has increased dramatically in 2019 – on the eve of the election campaign of the former President of Ukraine, which included popularization of the Tomos, issued by the Patriarch of Constantinople, but not recognized by other Orthodox Churches of the world. Only from October 2018 to April 2019, more than 62 temples of the UOC were illegally seized. Hierarchs of the UOC entered the scandalous fake base “Mirotvorets” (Peacemaker) as enemies of Ukraine, they are searched when crossing state borders; clerics and activists who defend the rights of the UOC are summoned to the SBU (Security Service of Ukraine) for questioning, criminal cases are fabricated against them on false grounds. The number of violations of the UOC believers’ rights was so dramatic that the Holy Synod of the UOC had to openly and publicly appeal to the international community for protection.