FACT CHECK: Did Ukrainian Nationalist Set Fire To Orthodox Church Suspected Of Russian Loyalism?

Joseph Casieri | Fact Check Reporter

An image shared on Facebook purportedly shows an Orthodox Church ablaze, caused by Ukrainian Nationalists in protest against Russian Loyalists.

Verdict: False

The caption is inaccurate. The fire predates the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Fact Check:

Church leader Patriarch Kiril has claimed to be the victim of religious persecution after Ukrainian forces raided his church after he was suspected of sharing pro-Russian sentiment to his congregation, CNN has reported. The United Nations Security Council also expressed concerns over the status of religious freedoms in Ukraine during the war, the organization reported.

The social media post allegedly shows two firefighters standing outside what appears to be a religious building as it is ablaze. “In the village of Ovadne, Volyn region,” the post reads. “For the rector’s refusal to move from the Moscow to the Kiev Patriarchate, the Ukranian (sic) Nationalists set fire to the Holy Ascension Church. These people are not CHRISTIANS.”

The video predates the current conflict in Ukraine. A reverse image search found the fire took place in January 2021, according to a Facebook post from the State Emergency Service of Ukraine.

“The wooden structures and the roof of the building were on fire in an area of about 800 square meters,” the post reads in part. “The fire was localized at 15:20 and eliminated at 16:43. There are no casualties or injuries.” There are no credible news reports suggesting the fire was caused by arson or was part of a political protest against Russian loyalists.

Church leader Dmitry Fednov issued an update on the fire soon after explaining that the State Service of Ukraine on emergency situations concluded the fire was caused by electrical network failure (RELATED: Did A Satirical Magazine Run A Cover With Ukrainians Vandalizing A World Cup Poster With Nazi Symbols?)

This is not the first time misinformation has circulated online. Check Your Fact recently debunked a claim a video showed the Yeti Airlines crash in Nepal.

Joseph Casieri

Fact Check Reporter