August 20, 2007

Ukrainian Orthodox Church Reports Clash Between Believers, “Pagans” in Kiev

Text of report by Interfax-Ukraine news agency

Kiev, 20 August: A brawl involving Orthodox believers and pagan fire-worshippers has taken place near the [foundations of the ruined] Desyatynna church in Kiev, the Interfax-Ukraine news agency learnt from the press service of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate.

According to the press service, "people in embroidered clothes (ritual clothes of pagans) started assembling" towads the end of the service on Sunday [19 August], the feast of the Holy Transfiguration, and "a detachment of 20 skinheads came afterwards".

The Orthodox believers called for reinforcement and the police. "But a brawl started before they appeared, a parishioner was beaten with brass knuckles and incurred serious brain injuries. The bodyguard of a female parishioner who was attending the service shot into the air and then wounded one of the attackers with a rubber bullet. He turned out to be a pagan from Odessa who had come to seize the temple," the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate said.

The press service reports that the Orthodox believers managed to drive the attackers away in the direction of the history museum. "But another group of thugs with swastikas came to help. The brawl continued with them. It ended with the arrival of the police who detained about 20 attackers," the church's press service said.

"Besides the pagans and the Filaret supporters (believers of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Kiev Patriarchate, headed by Filaret - Interfax), the temple was attacked by Uniates who brought newspapers advertising former MP Tyahnybok (Oleh Tyahnybok leader of the Freedom all-Ukrainian nationalist association - Interfax). Probably, they came to loosen up their muscles after the Kiev forum of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church dedicated to 'youth problems'," the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate said.

The public relations centre of the Ukrainian Interior Ministry's main directorate in Kiev confirmed to the agency that one person suffered a gunshot wound near the entry to the National History Museum on Sunday.

"A conflict between believers took place, and a group of 15-20 young athletic people attempted to provoke a brawl," the police said.

According to the public relations centre, a man suffered a concussion and a basal skull structure. Another participant in the events fired a warning shot and then opened fire with rubber bullets from a Fort-17 pistol. As a result, another person was wounded in the chest area.

"Everybody dispersed after the shooting. Criminal proceedings have been launched into this case of hooliganism by a group of people," the public relations centre said.

Originally published by Interfax-Ukraine news agency, Kiev, in Russian 0739 20 Aug 07.

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