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Ukrainian secret police raids Christian church-aligned journalists

The SBU has targeted Orthodox journalists reporting on the country’s church crackdown

Several employees of the Union of Orthodox Journalists (UOJ) have been subjected to raids by the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU), the group said on Tuesday.

The UOJ has reported on the ongoing persecution of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (UOC) by Kiev, which favors the government-backed Orthodox Church of Ukraine (OCU).

“UOJ employees were approached by the SBU agents, who seized their computer equipment and phones,” the group said on its Telegram channel, adding that no one had been charged with any offenses.

SBU agents have also visited participants in prayer vigils, the UOJ added. The union could not comment any further, but said it would offer more information as it becomes available. 

The SBU has yet to comment on the raids. It has previously tried to have the UOJ’s website blocked inside Ukraine.

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President Vladimir Zelensky’s government launched a crusade against the UOC last year, denouncing the canonical church as an “agent of Moscow.” Russia has protested against the crackdown as a violation of human rights, to little avail.

Last week, the SBU arrested a priest in the Cherkasy diocese and charged him with making “anti-Ukrainian and pro-Russian statements.” Archpriest Boris Brodovsky was accused of spreading “fake news” and religious discrimination, for criticizing the OCU seizures of UOC churches.

For months, multiple Ukrainian regions have been seizing UOC property and handing it over to the OCU on a variety of pretexts. The Ukrainian parliament has prepared a bill to ban the UOC, but has yet to vote on it. Critics have warned that such a move would endanger Kiev’s ambition to join the EU.

March 12, 2024 at 09:40PM

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