Ukrainian lawmakers passed a bill on Thursday that would ban religious organisations and churches with alleged ties to Moscow.
Ukraine’s lower house of parliament has passed a bill in the first of two required readings that would ban religious organisations and churches with alleged ties to Russia or in favour of its invasion of Ukraine.
Kyiv accuses the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (UOC) specifically of collaborating with Russia after its invasion of the country in 2022.
The bill was backed by 267 deputies and opposed by 15. It will become law if it passes a second reading and is signed by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.
Ukrainian MP Inna Sovsun praised the vote as "extremely important".
"So far, this is only the first reading but it is still a historic decision," she said on social media. "In order to defeat the aggressor, we need to think asymmetrically and leave no room for Russia to harm us," she added.
Leaders of the UOC declared the church's independence from Moscow last May over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
The UOC said the proposed ban violated the European Convention on Human Rights which guarantees freedom of religion.
"Undoubtedly, the adoption of this draft law will indicate that human rights and freedoms, for which our state is also fighting, are losing their meaning," it said in a statement.
The proposed ban has been controversial in Ukraine, where some parishioners still attend churches linked to the Moscow Patriarchate.
Russia has described Kyiv's treatment of the church as religious persecution.
A date has not been set for the second reading of the bill.