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Russia calls on OSCE to condemn Ukrainian nationalists’ behavior

April 28, 6:06 UTC+3 VIENNA

Numerous episodes demonstrate aggression and intolerance on behalf of Ukrainian nationalists, encouraged by the connivance of the Kiev government

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VIENNA, April 28. /TASS/. Moscow calls on the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) to condemn the intolerant and aggressive behavior of radical nationalist groups in Ukraine, Russia’s OSCE envoy has said.

At a meeting of the organization’s Permanent Council in Vienna, Russia’s deputy OSCE envoy Dmitry Balakin said Ukrainian radicals disrupt the investigation into the deadly fire during a rally in Odessa in 2014 and continued to intimidate members of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (Moscow Patriarchate).

He added that these episodes clearly show aggression and intolerance on behalf of Ukrainian nationalists, encouraged by the connivance of the Kiev government.

"We call on the current (OSCE) presidency, the secretary general, the head of the ODIHR (OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights) and chairperson-in-office on combating racism, xenophobia and discrimination, also focusing on Christians and members of other religions, to give a clear public statement on this issue," Balakin said.

"We also call on the media to closely follow cases of intolerance and discrimination on the religious basis in Ukraine and to inform the member states about them, including via the (monitoring) mission’s reports," he added.

May 2 will mark three years since Right Sector extremists and the so-called "Maidan self-defense" league burned down the Trade Unions House in the port city of Odessa and blocked pro-Russian protestors in the burning building. At least 48 people died and more than 200 were injured as a result. A trial of one of the suspects was recently disrupted by radicals, who broke into the unguarded court building.

The Russian diplomat also expressed "extreme concern" about the situation surrounding the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, which reports to Moscow Patriarchate (UOC MP).

"We have repeatedly drawn the attention of the Permanent Council and the OSCE executive structures to outrageous cases of killings, torture, intimidation and persecution of the UOC MP, and the seizure of the church’s property in Ukraine. There have been plenty of facts on many such incidents. We will circulate an updated list of them in the OSCE recently," the diplomat said.

Ukrainian politicians embarked on a campaign to separate the Ukrainian Church from the Russian Church after the disintegration of the USSR in 1991. Their efforts resulted in the emergence of an ecclesiastical organization calling itself the Ukrainian Orthodox Church reporting to the Kiev Patriarchate.

However, the Ukrainian Orthodox Church that reports to the Moscow Patriarchate and has the biggest congregation in Ukraine remains the only canonical branch of Orthodoxy in that country. Its legal status does not need redefinition in terms what Patriarchate it is subordinate, too.

Of late, the Kiev Patriarchate has pursued a very aggressive policy towards the parishes of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (of the Moscow Patriarchate). The seizure of the church’s cathedrals has become systemic, the Ukrainian authorities are hindering the church’s development in every possible way. According to the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (of the Moscow Patriarchate), it has lost 40 cathedrals over the past two years, which have been transferred to the Kiev Patriarchate.

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