Statement of Archbishop Gedeon that was prepared for a UNSC briefing on persecution of Ukrainian Orthodox Church
Esteemed high assembly,
I want to address you for the second time with the same question. Lawlessness on the territory of Ukraine and persecution of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, until when these will last?
It seems that a lot of talking happens, but nothing gets done. I believe that you are wise people and will draw the right conclusion and take measures to stop the persecution of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church.
Literally two and a half months ago, I spoke at the UN at a meeting of Council members about the persecution of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church and its clergy. Unfortunately, life itself has confirmed my words. And these persecutions concern me among others.
Then, during my speech, I said that I had detained and placed in a prison in Athens, local authorities tried to exert pressure by placing me in a cell. After that, there was a show on Greek TV, where it was said that a clergyman from the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate had been detained in Athens, put in jail, kept there for a day, exposed to physical and moral pressure.
Unfortunately, the situation has repeated itself.
I tried to get to Greece again to meet my family. To do this, I contacted my lawyer to clarify all the details. After checking all the documents, he reached out to me and said that I could come safely. I wanted to see my family, my relatives who live in Greece.
I took a Turkish speedboat to Rhodes. During passport control, it all started just like in Athens – I was detained for no reason, without explaining anything to me, they took me into a small room in which the temperature was over 50 Cº, they kept me for many hours without explaining anything. They even mocked me – they put a bottle of cold water in front of me, and when I asked for a sip, the police refused. They did not allow me to change the SIM card in my phone either to call my relatives to inform them that I would not arrive in Athens due to my detention. And this is despite the fact that all my documents were in order (passport, residence permit).
However, captain of the Turkish boat approached us and asked why and on what basis I had been detained, since all the documents were in order. Only after that (many hours later) and after the captain had offered to pick me up and take me back to Türkiye, the police released me, returned my documents, and also issued a certificate that "so-and-so cannot cross the EU border due to the fact that he is "very dangerous". Why I'm dangerous I have no idea. I'm not a gangster, I'm not a criminal, and I'm not even a politician! My only fault is that I told the UN the truth about the persecution of the UOC and its clergy.
As the lawyer later found out, it turns out that Ukraine, through the Czech Interpol office in Prague, submitted documents stating that I pose a threat, apparently because I pray and belong to the UOC, which was I was banned from crossing the EU border. At the same time, they are absolutely illegal and do not have any legal grounds. I am nothing but a prayer.
That's what happened to me after speaking at a meeting of the UN Security Council 10 weeks ago. I hope that reason and justice will prevail, otherwise all these meetings are meaningless.
Last time I told you that the Ukrainian military mocked one priest – they forced him to dig his grave with a spoon.
And so, a new case occurred just a month ago. I met with clergymen, whose details I cannot specify out of safety concerns. They shared a terrible case that had occurred in early May in the east of Ukraine. Ukrainian servicemen drove four clergymen into ice-cold water and forced them to renounce their faith and start saying "Glory to Ukraine!". These saints of God, may they be blessed, have not renounced.
Three of them drowned, and one lost consciousness and was carried further downstream. The Ukrainian military decided that he was dead, and they did not take him away, but he remained alive and told all this.
This is what is happening in Ukraine today. Murders of clergymen continue and there is a blasphemous violation of all laws, which I want to testify to.
I hope that wisdom and mercy will be able to stop this lawlessness and the Security Council will take effective measures.