The Constitutional Court of Ukraine (CCU) has ruled that the renaming of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (UOC) of the Moscow Patriarchate (MP) is lawful. Now the church is planned to be renamed to the Russian Orthodox Church in Ukraine, the CCU reported.
On Tuesday, 27 December, at the plenary session the Constitutional Court of Ukraine adopted the Decision upon the constitutional petition of 49 People’s Deputies of Ukraine on compliance of the Law of Ukraine ‘On Amending Article 12 of the Law of Ukraine “On Freedom of Conscience and Religious Organisations“ regarding the statutory name of religious organisations (associations) which are included into the structure (are a part) of a religious organisation (association), the leading centre (management) of which is situated outside Ukraine in the state which according to the law was declared as such that had carried our military aggression against Ukraine and/or temporarily occupied a part of the territory of Ukraine“ (the case on the full title of religious organisations) with the Constitution of Ukraine.
The Constitutional Court of Ukraine recognized the disputed Law as conforming to the Constitution of Ukraine.
The adopted Law obligated religious associations to reflect their affiliation with a religious organisation (association) outside Ukraine, to which it is a member, by mandatory reproducing the full statutory name of such a religious organisation. In addition, this Law established restrictions in the conditions of war on the access of clergy, religious preachers, and mentors of religious organisations, the leading centre (management) of which is located outside Ukraine in the state which according to the law was declared as such that had carried our military aggression against Ukraine and/or temporarily occupied a part of the territory of Ukraine to units of the Armed Forces of Ukraine and other military formations of Ukraine in the places of their deployment, other military formations of Ukraine in the places of their deployment or other restrictions provided for by the Law.
In adopting its decision, the Constitutional Court of Ukraine took into account the judgment of the European Court of Human Rights in the case of Ilyin and Others v. Ukraine, where, in particular, it is noted: „the mere fact of a State requiring a religious organisation which is seeking registration to take on a name which is not liable to mislead believers and the general public and which enables it to be distinguished from already existing organisations can in principle be seen as a justified limitation on its right to choose its name freely“.
The text of the Decision and its summary will be published on the official website of the Constitutional Court on 28 December 2022.
In addition, on Wednesday, 28 December 2022 at 9.30 a.m., a briefing of the judges-rapporteurs in this case will take place.
The draft law itself was adopted by the Verkhovna Rada 4 years ago, but it has not yet entered into force, because then the Opposition Bloc filed an application to the Constitutional Court that the document was allegedly illegal. Since then, there has been no meeting on this case.
Since mid-November, the Security Service of Ukraine has been conducting searches in the dioceses of the UOC-MP. Law enforcers say that they find prohibited items (usually Russian literature and Russian guidelines), foreign citizens who are hiding, weapons, and saboteurs, as well as interrogate clergymen.