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Wednesday, 25 November 2009 14:14
Religious Freedom Ranking:
3 out of 5 stars: Needs Improvement

The Constitution of the Ukraine and the 1991 Law on Freedom of Conscience and Religion provide for separation of Church and State and allow churches to establish places of worship and train clergy. All religious organizations must register with the Committee for Religious Affairs and with local governments. As of 2003, the country had 27,446 registered groups. Each region of the Ukraine has a department responsible for registering religious groups and monitoring their activities.

Restrictions are placed on non-native religious organizations. In particular, a 1993 amendment to the 1991 Law on Freedom of Conscience and Religion requires that foreign religious workers working non-native religious perform religious activities "only in those religious organizations which invited them to Ukraine and with the official approval of the government body that registered the ... pertinent religious organization." The 1996 and 1997 State Department Reports both note that local officials have impeded the activities of foreign religious workers.

In 1993, members of a group named "White Brotherhood" were involved in the seizure of St. Sophia’s Cathedral in Kiev. In February, 1996, three of their leaders were sentenced to prison terms ranging from 4 to 7 years. One of the leaders was granted early release under a mass amnesty, but the Supreme Court prevented her release because they were alarmed by her claim to be a living goddess.

Since the end of communist rule and independence from the Soviet Union, the Ukrainian Government has been seeking to resolve several tangled issues. the first is the return of property seized from churches by the soviet government. The second is resolving competing claims between various Ukrainian Churches to be the "Ukrainian Orthodox Church." Implementation of a 1992 decree for restitution of church properties has remained stalled. The government proposed establishing a "National Council of Churches" to hold a forum to resolve the second issue.

As of 1996, 33 Jewish congregations had successfully established places of worship. A former synagogue in Kiev, which was used as a puppet theater during the Soviet era, was transferred to a Chabad Hassidic congregation setting an important precedent for a judicial role in church property restoration. In addition, representatives of the Bratslav Hassidic community signed a breakthrough agreement with a local Jewish community and the government to build a religious center and museum at the site of the tomb of the founding rabbi of the Bratslav group. Authorities have made effort to ensure that members of this Hassidic community have been permitted to make pilgrimage to this site on the Jewish New Year.

2008 U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom Report on Ukraine

Ukraine - New World Encyclopedia

Last Updated on Monday, 14 November 2011 20:42