Moscow, February 6, Interfax – A recent wave of vandalism of Orthodox holy sites in Kosovo is “a means of intimidation of the Orthodox population of Kosovo and Metohia,” the Russian Orthodox Church said.
“The mass vandalizing of holy sites is a means of intimidation of the Orthodox population of Kosovo and Metohia and an attempt to force it to disown its historical memory,” the Moscow Patriarchate Department for External Church Relations said in a statement posted on its website.
The 19th-century Church of the Holy Trinity in the village of Babljak was plundered and vandalized. That church had fire set to it in 1999, the statement said.
More than 100 Orthodox tombs were destroyed in less than ten days.
On the Epiphany day on January 19, a crowd of members of ethnic Albanian group Self-Determination staged riots near the Monastery of the Assumption of the Holy Theotokos in Djakovica and was stopped from breaking into the monastery by a Kosovo Force (KFOR) unit.
“However, the majority of Orthodox churches remain defenseless against vandals and criminals. The events of the past few days prove this,” the statement said.
The Church of St. John the Forerunner in Strpce was plundered on January 31, the Church of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul in Klokot on February 1, and the Church of St. Petka in the village of Donja Budriga and the Church of St. Nicholas in the village of Binac on February 2.
In mid-January 58 Serb tombs were vandalized in Kosovo Polje, 27 graves in Klokot suffered the same plight a week later, then 50 graves did in Prizren, six in Suho Grlo, three in Plemetina, and some graves were destroyed in Pec.
Numerous tombs were destroyed by a cemetery explosion in Priluzje.
Vandals were destroying crosses on graves and damaging portraits on tombstones.
Fire was set to a cemetery chapel in Milosev.
“Another vivid manifestation of the war on history is that on January 21, 2013, a monument in Kosovska Vitina to Yugoslav anti-fascists who were killed during World War II and included ethnic Albanians was demolished with the use of construction machinery. It is deplorable that their descendants today do not consider it necessary to honor the memory of those who shed their blood as a contribution to the victory over the anti-human ideology of fascism,” the statement said.
The document cited the Bishop of Raska and Prizren Teodosije as saying that security standards were at their lowest since March 2004, when numerous Orthodox churches were burned or otherwise destroyed.
“The facts that have been mentioned inevitably raise questions about the future of the Orthodox population of Kosovo and Metohia and about guarantees of conservation for the holy sites of the Serbian Orthodox Church in Kosovo and Metohia,” the statement said.