UNITED NATIONS, March 29. /TASS/. The United Nations calls for protecting the freedom of religion in Ukraine, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Turk told reporters when asked to comment on Kiev’s criticism of his report about the situation surrounding the canonic Ukrainian Orthodox Church.
"For us it is very important when it comes to human rights what all of freedoms are respected and that includes freedom of religion, freedom of expression, includes every part of what human rights represent today," he said. "In the periodic report that my office has put out last Friday, we cover these various aspects."
At the same time, the UN commissioner criticized Russia’s actions in Ukraine, saying that "it is also important to look at other human rights issues in that context."
In its report, the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights said the Kiev government’s searches in buildings owned by the canonic Ukrainian Orthodox Church may be of ‘discriminatory’ nature. The Ukrainian Foreign Ministry’s official spokesman, Oleg Nikolenko, criticized this opinion, describing the report as 'unbalanced.'
On March 10, the directorate of the Kiev-Pechersk Lavra reserve terminated the open-ended lease with the Holy Dormition Kiev-Pechersk Lavra of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church and ordered its monks to leave the monastery by March 29. The Lavra’s abbot, Metropolitan Pavel, slammed these actions as illegal and declared the monks’ refusal to leave. On March 20, the members of the Holy Synod of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, led by Metropolitan Onufry, arrived at the office of Ukraine’s President Vladimir Zelensky to state their position only to be denied an audience. On March 23, the Synod issued an appeal to the highest hierarchs, clergy and parishioners to protect the Church’s right to stay in the Kiev-Pechersk Lavra.