MOSCOW, December 21. /TASS/. The Russian Foreign Ministry has called the seizure of an Orthodox church near Rivne by Ukrainian radical nationalists a flagrant violation of the right to freedom of conscience and religion.
"Moscow is outraged by another unacceptable instance of an attack of the Ukrainian radical nationalists and extremist-minded splitters from the Ukrainian Orthodox Church with the connivance of the local police on the Cathedral of the Dormition of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate in Ptichye village near Rivne with the purpose of its seizure," the ministry said. "The evidence of this flagrant case provided by human rights activists and members of the public, including video footage, is shocking."
The ministry noted that developments near Rivne were "yet another flagrant violation of the fundamental right to freedom of conscience and religion in Ukraine." "This country’s international legal obligations in the field of human rights and fundamental provisions of the Ukrainian Constitution are again trampled under foot," it added.
The ministry noted that the situation near Rivne was a continuation of a series of similar seizures of churches of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate. According to it, ten cathedrals have been fully destroyed, 77 others severely damaged and at least three Orthodox priests have been killed. "Several churches have been seized because of inactivity and sometimes direct involvement of Ukraine’s law enforcement agencies," the Russian Foreign Ministry said. "Many priests fled to Russia trying to save themselves from threats by extremists."
"We have the right to expect a strong reaction from international organizations, including the UN, the OSCE and human rights NGOs. The authorities in Kiev must finally rein in the rampaging criminals to prevent the further deepening of the split in the Ukrainian society," the Russian Foreign Ministry said.