Orthodox America

  The Cry of the New Martyrs -  Ukrainian Priest Emigrates

      Eleven years after applying to emigrate from the Soviet Union, Ukrainian Orthodox priest Fr. Vasyl Romaniuk finally received permission and is now in Canada with his 22-year old son Taras. His wife Maria died in 1985 as a result, according to Fr. Vasyl, of privations she endured alongside him in exile in northern Yakutia. Fr. Vasyl was arrested in 1972 and sentenced to seven years' deprivation of freedom for having spoken out in defense of Ukrainian nationalist Valentyn Moroz. Upon his release Fr. Vasyl joined the Kiev-based Helsinki Watch group and continued to press for emigration, citing constant harassment as his primary reason. His son Taras was thrown out of medical school and then denied entry to the Orthodox seminaries in Moscow and Leningrad, despite having passed admission examinations five times. Just months before their July departure from the USSR, Taras was warned to expect call-up as a reservist in the army, telephone calls to them from abroad were blocked and Fr. Romaniuk was summoned to the local chancellery where he was pressed to reconsider his decision to emigrate. Fortunately, persistent efforts on the part of the Ukrainian Orthodox community in Canada succeeded in securing an exit visa.

Two other Ukrainian Orthodox priests have applied to emigrate: former prisoner of conscience Fr. Myron Sas-Zhurakovsky, whose son Ihor was brutally beaten by police a year ago; and Fr. Vasyl Himyak who is ill and, in spite of working now as a gardener in a tuberculosis clinic, is in danger of being arrested as a "parasite". Both have lost their positions as parish priests and are having difficulty with their applications.

(Keston 12\3\87, 3/3/88, 5/12/88, 8/4/88, 12/1/88)

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