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Vasyl Hrytsak: Attacks on UOC religious buildings organised from occupied Donbas territories, coordinated by FSB (video)

The SBU records intentional activities of Russian special services aimed to destabilise the social and political situation in our country via the use of artificial religious conflicts, said SBU Head Vasyl Hrytsak at a briefing.

One of the tools is the organisation of cynical provocations – attempts to set fire to the religious structures of UOC-MP (Ukraine Orthodox Church of Moscow Patriarchy) in Ukraine. In February this year, such cases were recorded in Mykolaiv, Zaporizzhia and Dnipropetrovsk regions. “The Security Service of Ukraine collected uncontested evidence illustrating that these actions were ordered, set up and financed by Russian special services, via so-called MGB DNR structures under their control,” said Vasyl Hrytsak.

On February 16, in Zaporizzhia, as a result of a special operation, the SBU officers detained a direct executor and his accomplice on attempting to set fire to the church ‘In Honour of the Apostle Ioann Bohoslov’ of UOC-MP Zaporizzhia Diocese and documented the whole process of the crime.

The executor video-recorded the arson attempt to provide the evidence to his handlers. During the arrest the person tried to escape, even dumping his jacket in the process in order to change his appearance.

On the crime scene the investigative team seized a bottle of liquid, an improvised torch that was used for arson, a tablet and cell phones used to communicate with the organisers, who were detained on the same day. “We also found that the paymasters of the provocation are the citizens of Ukraine who today are hiding in the separatist-held territories of Donetsk region,” stressed the SBU Head.

One of them is Artem Tymchenko – a former editor-in-chief of Zaporizzhia-based Internet media hub. In 2014, he moved to the temporarily occupied territory of Donetsk region, where he hides from the law enforcement agencies of Ukraine and closely cooperates with so-called MGB DNR. The second person is Andriy Kuzmenko, a former resident of Zaporizzhia, a member of the illegal armed formation of DNR terrorist organization, nicknamed ‘Sarmat’. Both are on the national “wanted” list on suspicion of committing crimes.

The SBU established and documented the involvement of these persons in the organisation of two other arsons of UOC-MP religious buildings in Zaporizzhia on February 6 and February 11 this year.

The masterminds developed a clear algorithm for the executors to perform provocations. After the arson, the performers had to place a Nazi image or extreme right-wing symbol on the wall; this, according to their plan would have shifted the blame onto representatives of Ukrainian nationalist organizations.

The fact that provocations are being planned is confirmed by available to the SBU schedule of so-called field measures, prepared by the MGB DNR and approved by their handlers from the Russian FSB (Rostov Department). “The schedule illustrates the intentions of Russian special services to ‘stir up’ the religious situation in different regions of our country,” said the SBU Head.

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In particular, the plan included using fake accounts ot send emails on behalf of patriotic pro-Ukrainian forces, threatening with physical abuse the well-respected clergy of UOC, the Roman Catholic Church and Jewish religious communities. Russia’s special services planned to inflict bodily harm, including murder, of well-known representatives of the UOC (MP) clergy with involvement of representatives of the patriotic movements and ATO veterans, having established contact with them using patriotic rhetoric and financial incentives.

The mastermind of this contemptuous plan is Sobolev Yehor Viacheslavovych, a citizen of Ukraine, regretfully, a former SBU officer who is now a head of a “MDB DNR" department. "We deliberately publish this surname so that the traitor understands that he will soon be sued not only for high treason, but also for organising the above-mentioned crimes," Vasyl Hrytsak emphasized.

The list contains almost twenty religious buildings that were earmarked as objects for provocations, and includes including specific prices for each task.

The SBU calls on citizens not to stay clear from such provocations and reminds of responsibility for committing such crimes.

Vasyl Hrytsak is convinced that all attempts of Russian special services are doomed to fail. "This is guaranteed by absence of any objective grounds for faith-based conflicts, as well as by religious tolerance and wisdom of Ukrainians and Ukrainian Orthodox hierarchs, by the readiness of the SBU officers and other Ukrainian law enforcers to neutralize all these provocations of Russian special services," the SBU Head said.

SBU Press Centre


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Zhydkov Dmytro Mykhailovych
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Shevchenko Daniil Borysovych
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Yatsenko Viktor Viacheslavovych
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