UARU
Find Out More About Religious Persecution In Rebel-Held East Ukraine
2 June, 2015

What You Need To Know:

✓ There are only 4 religions recognized by the separatist authorities occupying East Ukraine;
✓ Religions not recognized by the separatist authorities are viewed as heretical or foreign agents by them;
✓ It is difficult to determine the scale of religious persecution because people are scared to give evidence.

There is rising religious intolerance in rebel-held East Ukraine. The separatist leader Zakharchenko has announced that only 4 religions are recognized on their territory. These are the Russian Orthodox, Roman Catholic, Islam and Judaism, according to Alissa Novitchkova, an analyst at the Center for Civil Liberties. According to her, churches other than those specified are viewed by the separatist leadership as heretical or foreign agents - essentially instruments of other states.

Sometimes it is quite difficult to differentiate between political persecution and religious persecution, Novitchkova told Hromadske. There was one incident where a church was accused of being connected to the Ukrainian far-right political party, Right Sector, which Novitchkova and her colleagues concluded was politically motivated but in other cases it is less clear cut.

Novitchkova further told Hromadske that there are difficulties with determining the scale of religious persecution because people are scared to give evidence.

Hromadske International's Nataliya Gumenyuk and Ian Bateson spoke with Alisa Novitchkova on May 31, 2015.