By Nadia Bazuk
On August 7, 2023, in the Vinnytsia City Court, the 74-year-old Metropolitan Jonathan of Tulchyn and Bratslav (Yeletskykh Anatoly Ivanovich) was sentenced to 5 years in prison with confiscation of property.
This sentence complied with no legal basis so Ukrainian believers created a petition to free Metropolitan Jonathan. Please support it to help Vladyka!
The sentence to Jonathan is the first sentence to a UOC hierarch with a real prison term. According to the SBU, since February 2022, the special service has opened 65 criminal cases against the clergy of the UOC, including high-ranking ones. 15 convictions have already been handed down. In addition, 19 priests of the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church were deprived of Ukrainian citizenship by the decree of Volodymyr Zelensky. According to some reports, among them is the UOC Metropolitan Jonathan of Tulchyn and Bratslav. This information is confirmed by the fact that in the court verdict on his case he is listed as a citizen of the Russian Federation, whose “citizenship of Ukraine has been terminated on the basis of the Decree of the President of Ukraine.”
Yeletskykh Anatoly Ivanovich was born on January 30, 1949, in the village of Shatalovka in the Voronezh (now Belgorod) region in the family of a teacher. He is of mixed Ukrainian, Russian, and Belorussian descent. His relatives now live in Kyiv.
Metropolitan Jonathan is one of the most famous hierarchs of the UOC. In December 1986, he was summoned to the KGB in connection with the distribution of the book “The Gulag Archipelago” by Alexander Solzhenitsyn among seminarians and then deprived of his temporary Leningrad residence permit. During the year, he could not find a new place of service because of the obstacles that the KGB put up. In the end, he decided to return to his parents in Kyiv. He arrived and introduced himself to Filaret.
“After some time, I received a call to the City Council on Khreshchatyk. A nondescript, “faceless” person meets me and says: “You were not summoned to the city council, but to the KGB, let’s talk.” Right on the street, we talked. He was aware of all my affairs and difficulties. And then he says that Vladyka Philaret would like to take me to Vladimir Cathedral. And he asked: “And how do I look at the fact that he, they say, has a family – a wife and children?” I thought that he was taking me at gunpoint, but my instinct told me that he was asking me about this for a reason. I evasively answer that, they say, I’m a new person here and then, after all, these are all rumors, not facts, and that each person will answer for his personal sins before God,” Metropolitan Jonathan recalled.
For half a year, Filaret did not determine a place for him but instructed him to serve in the house church in the Kyiv residence on Pushkinskaya Street, 36. Filaret, finally convinced that Jonathan did not pose a danger, appointed him to a church service in the Vladimir Cathedral.
Then he was the first abbot of the Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra after its transfer to the church in 1992 and began to rebuild the monastery. In the past, the bishop of large dioceses – Kherson, Sumy. Since November 22, 2006, Jonathan has been the ruling bishop of the Tulchyn and Bratslav diocese (part of the Vinnitsia region with the center in the city of Tulchyn) of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church.
Vladyka Jonathan is known as a church composer whose hymns are performed at divine services in many Orthodox churches around the world. Among his works “Chernobyl Liturgy” dedicated to the memory of those who died during the liquidation of the accident at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant, is widely known. The “Chernobyl Liturgy” is a kind of Orthodox “Requiem” dedicated to the memory of the fallen heroes-liquidators.
But Vladyka received the greatest fame because of the confrontation with the former Metropolitan of Kyiv Filaret (Denisenko). After a direct conflict with Denisenko, Jonathan (then still a bishop) was banned from serving in 1991, and after that, he was defrocked. The reason for the confrontation was disagreement on the issue of separation from the Moscow Patriarchate. Jonathan believed that the UOC should be in unity with the ROC. Later, after the election of another metropolitan (Vladimir), the defrocking of Bishop Jonathan was recognized as having no canonical grounds and therefore invalid.
Today, Vladyka is an elderly and sick person, insulin-dependent, who has undergone many surgeries. It is reported that lately, it has been difficult for him to serve, often the level of sugar in his blood has risen. Sometimes Vladyka sat down during the service, he could not stand for long, but at the same time he always delivered wonderful sermons. After the searches, he underwent heart surgery, and due to the illegal deprivation of citizenship, he lost the right to health insurance and legal protection: 5 years in prison for him is tantamount to a death sentence. However, the verdict states that the court took into account information about the state of health of the accused.
You can find more information about Metropolitan Jonathan’s case on the petition page. Please support it to help Vladyka!