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Khmelnytskyi City Council revokes Moscow Patriarchate church land rights after assault on Ukrainian soldier
The Khmelnytskyi Сity Сouncil has revoked the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate's land rights after a military officer was assaulted at their place of worship, Suspilne reported on April 4.
All 38 council members present at the session voted unanimously in favor of the decision, according to Suspilne.
On April 2, residents organized a committee and collected signatures to transfer the building and its property to the Orthodox Church of Ukraine following public outrage after a video surfaced of a soldier getting assaulted on its grounds.
Following the incident, the church held its first service in Ukrainian.
The video, published by Khmelnytskyi Oblast council member Viktor Burlyk, showed a man in a military uniform being shoved and struck by a man in clerical garb, who is then joined by others that shove the soldier against a wall.
The soldier can be heard complaining about the Moscow Patriarchate, which effectively operates as the Ukrainian branch of the Russian Orthodox Church. At one point, the soldier is heard saying that he couldn't breathe.
Burlyk identified the soldier as Artur Ananiev, a volunteer soldier, who sustained a head injury in combat.
The Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate is not to be confused with the Orthodox Church of Ukraine, which was granted autocephaly (ecclesiastical independence) by the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Constantinople in January 2019.
Recently, Kyiv ordered the religious leaders from the Moscow Patriarchate to leave the premises of the Kyiv Pechersk Lavra, the church's stronghold.
Ukraine has long accused the Moscow Patriarchate's representatives in Ukraine of serving as the Kremlin's propaganda arm under the guise of religion.