The Ukrainian Institute for Religious Freedom (IRF) has revealed that the Russian invasion of Ukraine has resulted in at least 494 religious buildings, theological institutions, and sacred places being damaged, looted or completely destroyed.
The report was presented during the Institute for Religious Freedom Summit organised by the Institute for Religious Freedom, and found the number of religious buildings damaged has more than doubled since July 2022.
At least 120 places of worship, including mosques and synagogues, were destroyed in the Donetsk region, where most of the heavy fighting has taken place. The Kyiv and Kharkiv regions were the next most affected areas.
Among the different denominations, it is the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (affiliated with the Moscow Patriarchate) which has been the most impacted by the war, with at least 143 buildings completely devastated,
The report also found the scale of destruction of Evangelical churches and prayer houses has been "immense” with at least 170 buildings damaged - including 75 Pentecostal churches, 49 Baptist churches, 24 Seventh-day Adventist churches, and 22 “other” evangelical churches.
On many occasions, members of the looted churches found the burnt remains of Ukranian Bibles, tracts and books.
In a speech during the IRF Summit, IRF executive director Dr. Maksym Vasin said Russian soldiers often target Ukrainian clergy and churchgoers, calling them "American spies," "sectarians," and "enemies of the Russian Orthodox people”.
Vasin concluded his speech by urging the international community to investigate and charge Russian authorities for crimes against humanity.