of the Institute for Religious Freedom

on the inadmissibility of inciting hatred in society

caused by the COVID-19 pandemic

Currently, false information is systematically spreading through media primarily by Ukrainian Health Ministry officials about the church's allegedly a mass violation of the quarantine requirements for Easter and almost daily they are voicing negative forecasts of the expected outbreak of COVID-19 as a consequence.

It ought to note that such statements don’t represent facts and straightly contradict official data. In particular, this year Ukrainian National Police fixed a significant decrease in the number of believers coming to temples during the Easter celebration: it’s just 130 thousand instead of 7 million, compared to last year. That means that less than 2% of believers came to cathedrals for Easter celebration, that testifies of the tremendous informational and organizational work that churches and religious organizations of various denominations did to protect their parishioners and society in general in the context of the COVID-19 virus pandemic. Although some solitary violations still had place but law enforcement agencies responded on them by initiating appropriate criminal proceedings.

It should be noted that the Ukrainian Council of Churches and Religious Organizations takes a consistent posture on counteracting and combatting this epidemic since the COVID-19 quarantine in Ukraine was imposed. In particular, on March 13, 2020, the Council of Churches made an Appealed to Ukrainian people and all believers of various churches to prevent the spread of COVID-19, which contained specific recommendations for self-isolation and compliance with quarantine requirements. Thus churches and religious organizations of Ukraine took all necessary measures of the secure church meeting in conditions of quarantine and positively accepted the proposal of the state leadership to have Easter and Passover celebration at home with their families.

Institute for Religious Freedom calls on to officials of the Ministry of Health of Ukraine, as well as experts and other media persons to stop inciting hostility in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. Responsibility for the identified specific violations should be claimed from violators but not the religious community of Ukraine itself. Such unjust generalizations lead to annoying those believers and religious communities who faithfully obey the quarantine requirements. The oath of the official public servant and the standards of journalistic ethics require avoiding generalized accusations on any social group including religious communities and respecting the rights and dignity of every human.