The Center for monitoring the rights of Orthodox Christians in Europe has registered 164 violations over the past year, and the situation in Ukraine and Kosovo is of the greatest concern, the representative of the Moscow Patriarchate to the Council of Europe and the European Union Hegumen Philip (Ryabykh) said in an interview with RIA Novosti.
The monitoring center has existed for the third year already. It was created by the office of the Russian Orthodox Church in Strasbourg to monitor the situation and report violations to the organs of European international organizations. Violations are recorded on the basis of open sources of various information structures of the local Orthodox Churches of the world.
"In 2016, 164 registered cases of violation of the rights of Orthodox Christians in the countries that are members of the Council of Europe, and a large number of cases of violations of the rights and freedoms of Orthodox Christians are recorded in countries where Orthodox Christians constitute an overwhelming majority. Christians constitute a significant or insignificant minority, but have a long history of presence.The greatest concern is the situation in Ukraine, as well as in the territory of Kos in "- Hegumen Philip said.
In Ukraine, the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate operates, which is a self-governing church within the Moscow Patriarchate, as well as the unrecognized church structures - the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Kyiv Patriarchate (UOC-KP) and the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church (UAOC). At the same time, the UOC MP repeatedly reported cases of harassment of clergymen and seizures of Orthodox churches by representatives of the UOC-KP. In particular, for the 2014-2016 years, the UOC MP lost 40 temples.
"The violations that we fix have a wide spectrum - from hooliganism and vandalism to discrimination, hate speech, distortion of the image of Orthodox churches or their representatives," hegumen Philip explained.
Among places where many cases of violation of rights and freedoms of Orthodox Christians are recorded, he also mentioned Croatia and Northern Cyprus. And he added that more often violations are committed not by state bodies, but by public or political organizations and individual individuals.