Ukrainian President Volodomyr Zelensky announced on Friday that the Ukrainian government intends to ban a major sect of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church accused of having ties to the Patriarchate in Russia.
Zelensky claims that the religious institution has undermined support for Ukraine in its war against Russia, claiming that the move is necessary to prevent Russia from being able to “weaken Ukraine from within," Reuters reported.
The ban on the country’s most popular religious organization comes following bans on news stations, and opposition political parties critical of his regime, which enjoys support by the United States and other NATO member states amid Russia’s ongoing invasion.
“A meeting of the NSDC (National Security Defense Council) was held today,” said Zelensky in a statement on Ukrainian television. “A meeting at which we examined numerous facts of the ties of certain religious circles in Ukraine with the aggressor state.”
“It is necessary to create such conditions in which any figures dependent on the aggressor country will not be able to manipulate Ukrainians and weaken Ukraine from within,” he continued, referring to Russia, which invaded Ukraine in late February.
“The NSDC instructed the government to submit to the Verkhovna Rada (Ukraine’s parliament) a bill on the impossibility of the activities of religious organizations affiliated with the centers of influence in the Russian Federation in Ukraine,” added Zelensky.
“In addition, the state Service for Ethnopolitics and freedom of Conscience has been instructed to ensure the religious studies examination of the Statute on the Management of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church for the presence of a church-canonical connection with the Moscow Patriarchate and if necessary, apply the measures provided for by law.”