Official statement of the Donetsk Exarchate of the UGCC regarding the illegal arrest of priests in Berdiansk

November 25, 2022, 20:36 20

On Friday, November 25, the press service of the Donetsk Exarchate of the UGCC published an official statement regarding the illegal arrest of clergy members in Berdiansk.

Official statement of the Donetsk Exarchate of the UGCC regarding the illegal arrest of priests in Berdiansk

In these challenging times for our people, when we are witnesses of numerous painful victims of military atrocities, we accept with great regret and pain the news of the groundless and illegal kidnapping and imprisonment of two clergy members of the Donetsk Exarchate of the UGCC in the city of Berdiansk: hieromonk Ivan Levytskiy, rector of the Church of the Nativity of the Most Holy Theotokos in Berdiansk and Fr. Bohdan Heleta, the vicar of the same church, by the Russian “administration” established in the territories captured by Russian troops.

After the publication in several information resources (including in the Russian mass media) of reports about the detention of Ukrainian priests in Berdiansk due to the alleged explosives found in them by the Russian guards, with accusations of “subversive” and “guerrilla” activities directed against representatives of the Russian troops, which are located in the city of Berdiansk, we feel obliged to make an official statement:

These priests are in the place of their priestly ministry on completely legal grounds, conducting their statutory activities in the local parish for more than three years. From the moment of the full-scale war outbreak on the territory of Ukraine until the day of their arrest by representatives of the Russian special services, there was nothing to be questioned and all their activities did not go beyond the scope of their pastoral duties and were the subject of detailed reporting, on their part, to the church authorities.

At the time of the search in the temple, both priests were already under arrest. Thus, they could not in any way control these premises and the actions of the Russian Guard.

The analysis of the library funds of this parish, presented in the journalistic report of the “Zvezda” (The Star) channel, is astonishing to anyone who has a superficial knowledge of the European history of the last century. Such an analysis can be perceived only and exclusively as either an unsuccessful journalistic joke or a cheap means of deliberately discrediting the clergy of the UGCC in the style of the most primitive slanders of our Church by the godless communist regime of the ex-USSR.

The very fact of similar behavior of representatives of the Russian local authorities concerning the clergy of the UGCC can have only one assessment — a complete disregard for the fundamental principles of human rights.

The appearance in the propagandistic Russian information space of a deliberately fabricated false accusation of possessing weapons and explosives, spiritual persons indicates an intention to use further terror against imprisoned fathers. It also proves that in the cities of southern Ukraine, the Russian administration operates according to the methods of the Bolshevik special services.

Taking into account the above, we demand the earliest possible release from custody and imprisonment of our priests — hieromonk Ivan Levytskiy and hieromonk Bohdan Heleta, and ensure their unhindered legal service to the spiritual needs of the faithful of the UGCC, who live in the city of Berdyansk.

The Press service of the Donetsk Exarchate of the UGCC

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