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Churches in Ukraine robbed and shut down as conflict divides communities

East Europe

Churches in Ukraine robbed and shut down as conflict divides communities

Suspected separatist militia robbed an Evangelical-Baptist church in Kadiivka, around 30 miles from Lugansk in eastern Ukraine, on the night of 27 March 2018.

A representative from the Union of Evangelical-Baptist Churches told OSCE international monitors that several people in military-style clothing entered the church after 9:30 p.m. and took items used in church services.

The Lugansk region in eastern Ukraine is a “grey zone”, where Christians are trapped between the Ukrainian army and Russian-backed separatists. Protestant churches in the conflict-racked region have been targeted by separatist elements, as they are perceived as pro-European.

The Ukraine conflict has divided communities, leading to Christians being targeted

An Orthodox church in the village of Ptycha in government-controlled western Ukraine was shut down by police on 3 April, after a mob wearing balaclavas invaded the church and evicted two elderly women parishioners who were inside. The church building in Ptycha is used by two Ukrainian Orthodox congregations, one of which is aligned with the Moscow Patriarchate, whose members have been targeted for being seen as pro-Russian; Orthodox churches of the Moscow Patriarchate have been seized and attacked across western Ukraine.

A minister from the Moscow Patriarchate congregation in Ptycha told OSCE monitors that the two congregations would cooperate to hold (Orthodox) Easter services in the church garden.

Photo credit: Ukrainian Ministry of Defense Flickr, cc-by-sa-2.0