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World News

Ukraine's parliament registers bill that could lead to ban on Moscow-linked church

by Reuters Journalist

Ukraine's parliament registered a draft law on Monday that would allow a ban on activities of the Moscow-linked Ukrainian Orthodox Church (UOC).

The church has been accused by Kyiv of undermining Ukraine's unity and collaborating with Russia following Moscow's full-scale invasion in February 2022, charges that it denies.

The bill proposes amendments envisaging a court ban on religious organisations that include members convicted of war propaganda, violate an article that forbids what is dscribed as justification of Russian aggression against Ukraine, or violate citizens' equal rights based on religious beliefs.

Registration of the draft bill is a first step in the process of becoming law. The bill now requires the approval of a parliamentary committee before it can be submitted for consideration by parliament.

UOC Metropolitan Pavel has been notified that he is suspected of inciting inter-religious hatred and distributing materials justifying Russian aggression. He has denied the accusations.

An explanatory note to the bill states that the UOC is seen as a structural part of the Russian Orthodox Church whose activities, it said, were "aimed at supporting armed aggression of the Russian Federation."

The UOC accepted the authority of the patriarch of Moscow until after Russia's invasion last year but says it has now severed ties with Russia and is the victim of a political witch hunt. The Kremlin says that actions under way against the UOC are illegal.

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