The violation of freedom of religion or belief

Russia provides the systematic policy of oppression of all religious communities, not controlled by Moscow: Ukrainian Orthodox Church, Jehovah’s Witnesses and Muslim communities.

There were 2083 religious organizations in Crimea before the occupation in 2014. Only about 700 of them survived persecution and re-registration in accordance with Russian law. 

The Ukrainian Orthodox Church is the most persecuted religious organization in Crimea. Its oppression is an element of the policy of eradication of Ukrainian identity in temporarily occupied territories and a component of the policy of displacement of those who disagree with the occupation.    

Even before the occupation the parishioners of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church were a religious minority on the peninsula: the number of Kyiv patriarchy communities was already 14 times smaller than the number of Moscow Patriarchate communities. However even the relatively small religious community of Ukrainian Orthodox Church, which actually numbers about 5 000 believers, 4 priests and only 9 parishes (from 46 that acted before the occupation), is under constant pressure and persecution. In 2020 the Ukrainian Orthodox Church community was evicted from its principal cathedral in Simferopol for a debt of 2,95 UAH (0,09 euro). In Yevpatoria the occupation authorities ordered the demolition of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church temple.

Russia illegally extended its legislation to the territory of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and Sevastopol and prohibited the activity of the religious organization «Jehovah’s Witnesses», which is determined as extremist in Russia (art. 282.2 of the Criminal Code of Russian Federation). Today seven Ukrainian citizens are in prison in this case. Russian authorities charge them with ungrounded accusations under article of the Criminal Code of Russian Federation «Organization of the activities of an extremist organization» (art. 282.2). 

Muslims and Muslim communities, who are not connected with so-called «Spiritual Muslim Administration of the Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol» (controlled by Russian occupation authorities), are systematically persecuted.


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