The Ukrainian government is now launching attacks against its people’s religious freedom with the drafting of a new law that will ban all churches affiliated with Russia. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky claims the attack on religion will stop Ukraine from being weakened “within” by people of faith who may affiliate with such churches as the Russian Orthodox faith.
In a move condemned in Moscow, Ukraine’s National Security and Defence Council told the government to draft the law following a series of raids on parishes that Kyiv says could be taking orders from Moscow as Russia wages war on Ukraine.
The security council, which groups top security, military and political figures, also ordered investigations into suspected “subversive activities of Russian special services in the religious environment of Ukraine” and called for sanctions against unspecified individuals.
Ukrainian media quoted sources as saying a pro-Russia former lawmaker and a senior cleric already faced “personal” sanctions, but the reports could not be confirmed independently.
The Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) also continued its raids on Friday, saying it searched at least five parishes belonging to a branch of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church which until May was subordinated to the Russian Orthodox Church.
During an address to the nation Thursday, Zelensky claimed, “We have to create conditions where no actors dependent on the aggressor state (Russia) will have an opportunity to manipulate Ukrainians and weaken Ukraine from within,” adding, “We will never allow anyone to build an empire inside the Ukrainian soul.”