Kiev, December 10, Interfax - The Ukrainian authorities did not let Metropolitan Hilarion of Donetsk and Mariupol cross the contact line at the Novotroitskoye checkpoint.
Metropolitan Hilarion was en route from Donetsk to the Svyato-Uspensky Nikolo-Vasilyevsky Monastery in the village of Nikolskoye, Volnovakha District, Donetsk Region for a traditional joint prayer with the bishops of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, monks, and pilgrims on the Feast of the Icon of Our Lady of the Sign, an event which has been taking place for 20 years, the press service for the Donetsk Diocese said.
Metropolitan Hilarion's right to cross the contact line, the so-called electronic pass in the database of the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU), turned out to have been annulled, though no reason was given, the diocese said.
"The only reason for this situation, according to an SBU official at the Novotroitskoye checkpoint, turned out to be very simple and mockingly groundless: [...] a special order from Kiev," it said.
It turned out that the electronic pass was annulled on December 7, but when the metropolitan retuned to Donetsk from the Kiev-Perchersk Lavra after a meeting of the Holy Synod of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church on December 8, he had no problem crossing the contact line.
"The fact that a citizen of Ukraine has been denied his integral right to enter his home country is even more surprising," the diocese said, adding that such actions show "that certain forces do not want peace, because the Ukrainian Orthodox Church is the only connecting link that has authority on both sides of the contact line in this situation of conflict."
The Donetsk Diocese has described the SBU's actions as provocation, especially in the context of the Ukrainian president's recent request to the head of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church for assistance with the return of the Ukrainian sailors from Russia.
"This situation shows glaringly that the Ukrainian authorities are continuing to rudely interfere in the affairs of the church and their open persecution of and discrimination against hierarchs and clergy of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church based on religious affiliation, clearly violating the constitutional rights of citizens of Ukraine (in Metropolitan Hilarion's case, the right to freedom of travel)," the Donetsk Diocese said.