Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova branded Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky’s decision revoking Ukrainian citizenship of 13 priests of the canonic Ukrainian Orthodox Church (UOC) as Satanism.
“And this is on Orthodox Christmas! This is pure Satanism,” she wrote on her Telegram channel on Saturday commenting on information on the relevant decree by the Ukrainian leader.
On Saturday, Ukraine’s Levy Bereg news outlet said citing its sources that Zelensky had signed a decree stripping Ukrainian citizenship of 13 priests of the UOC.
Since November 2022, Ukrainian law enforcement agencies have been conducting a series of raids against UOC churches. The Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) claims that “pro-Russian literature and millions in cash,” as well as materials denying the existence of Ukraine” were found. Several members of the clergy were accused of high treason, sabotage and propaganda.
On December 1, Zelensky issued a decree to enact a resolution of the National Security and Defense Council on Certain Aspects of the Activities of Religious Organizations in Ukraine and the Application of Personal Special Economic and Other Restrictive Measures (Sanctions), essentially aimed at banning the UOC. More specifically, he issued orders to submit a bill to parliament on banning “religious organizations affiliated with centers of influence in the Russian Federation,” stepping up “measures to identify and counter subversive activities by Russian special services in Ukraine’s religious sphere,” and scrutinizing the Charter governing the Ukrainian Orthodox Church for signs of ecclesiastical and canonic links with the Moscow Patriarchate.