By Nadia Bazuk
The Archbishop of the Holy Sepulchre in Cyprus, Metropolitan Timothy of Vostron of the Patriarchate of Jerusalem, sent his letter of support to the 74-year-old Metropolitan Jonathan of Tulchyn and Bratslav of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church.
On August 7, 2023, in the Vinnytsia City Court, Metropolitan Jonathan (Yeletskykh Anatoly Ivanovich) was sentenced to 5 years in prison with confiscation of property based on fabricated charges by the Ukrainian SBU.
“With deep sorrow, I observe all this time the insults, abuses and persecution that the hierarchs, clergy and people of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church are subjected to in general, on the part of the state and those church and other representatives who support its decisions and actions.
Persecution is not new in the life of the Church. We have known this for two thousand years or more, and you, Your Eminence, have experienced this on your own and during the atheistic regime. This is a situation that the Divine Founder himself warned us about, saying: « even less exiled you will be married ( John. 15:20 ) »: — and, having joined the ranks of the clergy, we put up with this,” Metropolitan Timothy wrote.
In August, Metropolitan Jonathan received a letter of support from His Beatitude Archbishop Anastasios of Tirana and All Albania.
“With the deepest sorrow we follow the painful trials of Your beloved Eminence and Your chosen flock,” the letter reads. “We participate in Your sufferings and, to extend of our capabilities, we share where appropriate our testimony about the atrocities against the pious Orthodox holy clergy, the devout people, as well as the renowned sacred places in Ukraine.”
Metropolitan Jonathan was also supported by Pope Tawadros II, the leader of the Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria, who sent a protest sent a protest to the Embassy of Ukraine in Cairo, as the clergy should not fall victim to political conflicts.
Earlier, Ukrainian believers created a petition to free Metropolitan Jonathan.
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 sugar level 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.
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.”