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Ukraine’s acts on Church-state relations legalizing witch hunt — Russian Church spokesman

"The bills cover up the itch of a definite part of Ukrainian establishment to press politics into religious life," Vladimir Legoida said

MOSCOW, May 17. /TASS/. Bills regulating relations between the Church and the state may worsen the conditions for all the religious communities in Ukraine, as they will legalize witch hunt, Vladimir Legoida, the chairman of Moscow Patriarchate’s relations between the Church and Society said on Wednesday.

"The bills cover up the itch of a definite part of Ukrainian establishment to press politics into religious life," the department quoted Legoida in a press release. "If these bills turn into laws, they will legalize witch hunt that will be supported only by religious radicals willing to grab the property of other communities."

Ukraine’s Verkhovna Rada plans to consider the bills that will put the activity of religious communities under state control and will tear away the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church from Moscow Patriarchate, which it reports to. More than 300,000 Ukrainians have signed an appeal to prevent adoption of the bills by the Rada.

Experts of the Russian Orthodox Church say bills No. 4128 and No. 4511 establish the capability to determine the canonical jurisdiction of churches for people unrelated to the activity of one or another parish. Besides, they legalize intrusion of the Ukrainian state power into the internal affairs of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church under the pretext of threats to Ukraine’s security allegedly coming from its canonical unity with Moscow Patriarchate.

"The practice of the European Court for Human Rights proceeds from the assumption that the state Church schisms cannot be mended by means of secular law and, correspondingly, in violation of canonical law," Vladimir Legoida said.

"As far as I know, none of Ukraine’s religious communities supported these legislative changes and society doesn’t show much liking for them either," he said. "

"In spite of continuing splits and divisions in Ukrainian society, the sphere of inter-religious relations hasn’t turned into a full-size field for conflicts," Legoida said. "But the bills we’re talking about lay the legislative foundations for legalizing inter-denominational standoff - something you can’t call otherwise than an anti-popular proposal."