2019-04-03 12:25:00

Russian Church calls on OSCE to boost religious freedom monitoring in Ukraine

Vienna, April 3, Interfax - A representative of the Moscow Patriarchate has proposed expanding the mandate of OSCE Special Monitoring Missions (SMM) to Ukraine to include its gathering information regarding violations of religious freedom.

"We are getting reports about multiple violations of the rights of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church worshipers," deputy head of the Synodal Department for Church, Society and Media Relations Vakhtang Kipshidze said an OSCE meeting in Vienna.

The mandate of the SMM OSCE should be expanded to include it gathering and publishing information on multiple violations of religious freedom by Ukrainian authorities, Kipshidze said.

In 2014, the Venice Commission approved the Guidelines on the Legal Personality of Religious or Belief Communities earlier developed by the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights, he said.

"These guidelines point out that the state, when providing legal personality to religious communities, should leave it to communities 'themselves to decide on their leadership, internal rules, the substantive content of their beliefs, the structure of the community and methods of appointment of the clergy, as well as its name and other symbols'," Kipshidze said.

The so-called law on renaming that was adopted in Ukraine breaches these guidelines and should get a legal assessment in the Venice Commission, especially in the light of threats to deprive the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of its legal personality voiced by the author of this "discriminative law," Verkhovnaya Rada member Viktor Yelensky, he said.