What Do We Know About the Bill Claimed to Ban the Ukrainian Orthodox Church

Reading Time: 5 minutes

Reading Time: 5 minutes


On October 19, one of the leaders of the “Conservative Movement” party, Shota Martynenko, reported on his Telegram channel that the Rada of Ukraine supported the draft law in the first reading, which bans the Ukrainian Orthodox Church. The video of the voting results in the Rada of Ukraine is attached to the post.  On October 19, the same information together with a video was actively shared by Facebook users (1,2,3,4,5,6). The information was also published by the Facebook page “Orthodox Page.”

On October 21, another leader of the “Conservative Movement”, Konstantine Morgoshia, published a post with the same content.

The claim that the Ukrainian Rada passed a bill banning the Ukrainian Orthodox Church is manipulative. In the first reading, the Rada of Ukraine adopted the draft law, which prohibits religious organizations associated with the aggressor country. It is expected that the law will affect the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate, which is not the only Orthodox Church in Ukraine.

What draft law was adopted by the Rada of Ukraine in the first reading?

On October 19, the Rada of Ukraine adopted bill number 8371 in the first reading, which envisages legislative changes to enable the prohibition of religious organizations whose management center is located in the aggressor country.

For the second reading of the draft law, the comments of the law enforcement agencies of Ukraine, in particular the Security Service, will also be taken into account. In addition, in the statement published on the Rada’s news telegram channel, it is noted that during the second reading, the draft law requires additional work, so that the principles of regulation of religious organizations are adopted taking into account the constitutional rights of citizens’ freedom of religion.

The bill begins the process of banning the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate.

Notably, there exist two Orthodox churches in Ukraine. Moscow-related Ukrainian Orthodox Church (Українська православна церква Московского патриархату- УПЦ МП) and the Orthodox Church of Ukraine (Православна церква України – ПЦУ). In addition, according to the 2022 survey of the Kyiv International Institute of Sociology, the majority of the Ukrainian population identifies itself with the Orthodox Church of Ukraine – ПЦУ, and the support of the Moscow Patriarchate has significantly decreased. In 2022, 54% of the respondents identified themselves as parishioners of the ПСУ, and 4% to the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate. Accordingly, the draft law passed by the Rada does not fight the Orthodox Church or religion in general, but specifically the connection of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate with the Russian Federation.

It should also be noted that although the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate denies its connection with Moscow, it has not declared full autocephaly. Three months after the start of the war, the Ukrainian Orthodox Church declared political independence from the Moscow Patriarchate but later clarified that the church had been independent for 30 years, and had not severed its spiritual connection.

What is the principle of operation of the bill?

In an extensive article prepared by the Russian-language edition of the BBC about the bill passed by the Rada, it is noted that with the entry into force of the bill, the long and difficult process to ban the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate will commence.

The State Service of Ethnopolitics and Freedom of Conscience of Ukraine (ДЕСС) must establish that the center of management of a certain religious organization is in Russia. After that, ДЕСС allows the organization to change this situation; however, if the change does not happen, ДЕСС must sue the legal entity in court, and the court must make a decision on the ban.

The BBC notes that the implementation of this mechanism will be difficult for several reasons: first of all, court proceedings will take a long time and years may pass from the adoption of the law to the actual ban, besides, the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate is not a single legal entity. There are separate organizations against which lawsuits must be filed: the Metropolis of Kyiv, dioceses (of which there are more than 50), and individual parishes (several thousand). In total, the number of such legal entities in Ukraine is about 9,000.

Therefore, even after the law enters into force, it will not immediately ban the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate, and first its connections with Russia must be evidenced and the appropriate decision made by the court.

The Bill on Civil Partnerships

The posts on Facebook manipulatively link the “ban” of Orthodoxy in Ukraine with the support of “homosexual marriage” by the Council of Justice. Both Morgoshia and Martinenko note that Ukraine’s pro-Western and European course entails “banning Orthodoxy and legalizing depravity.” These statements are related to the support of the draft law on civil partnership by the Ministry of Defense and Justice of Ukraine. Rada deputy Inna Sovsun voiced the information about this on October 19.

A civil partnership is a formal recognition of the relationship between two people who wish to have certain rights and obligations towards each other, similar to married couples. However, a civil partnership is not a marriage. Civil partnership applies to both same-sex and opposite-sex couples. The draft law envisages equality of civil partners with close relatives, they will have property and inheritance rights and the right to social security, however, they will not have the right to adopt a child.

Inna Sovsun registered the draft law on civil partnership in the Rada of Ukraine in March 2023. It should also be noted that 25,000 people signed the petition supporting the draft law on civil partnership. Initially, the Ministry of Defense did not support the bill, but the position changed. Notably, the Ministry of Justice worked on another similar initiative, although it currently supports the mentioned bill.

After the Ukrainian authorities started working to reduce the influence of Russia in the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate, the Kremlin media started spreading a number of manipulative and false messages as if Ukraine was fighting Orthodoxy. Learn more about the topic in the materials prepared by “Myth Detector:”

The article has been written in the framework of Facebook’s fact-checking program. You can read more about the restrictions that Facebook may impose based on this article via this link. You can find information about appealing or editing our assessment via this link.

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Violation: Manipulation
Country: Russia, Ukraine

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