Sloviansk, June 30, 2014
The shelling began during the Liturgy. Head of the St. Alexander Nevsky Deanery of Sloviansk and Dean of the Cathedral Archpriest Nikolai Fomenko relates:
“Shelling began at 10 AM during the Liturgy. The parishioners had just started singing “Our Father”, when the first volley was fired from the Karachun hill. Then there were several more volleys, and one shell hit the “Palianitsa” bread shop, situated in a few meters from the church. It was blown up and all that remained burned down. The saleswoman, hearing the first volley, ran out – and this saved her life.
“At that moment many people – about 1000 in number – were on the territory of the church. Many believers who had come for the service were inside the church, and those who were waiting for humanitarian aid gathered in the courtyard. When the shelling began, everybody rushed into the church. The cathedral was packed with people; the worshippers were kneeling and praying to God with tears. Several stained glass windows fell from the dome and broke because of the shock wave, and this made the people pray more fervently. The volleys lasted for about half an hour. The Artema micro-district and the central market were shelled as well.
“Retaliatory volleys were then heard from the city. There were several of them. But we were definitely the target of the shelling.
“Nobody has been injured on the territory of the cathedral. Neither was church damaged. The people took shelter at the church and this saved them from splinters of the blown-up shop. Civilian residents were killed in Artema, two of them have been buried today—Fr. Tikhon has performed a funeral service over them. The morgue is not working here as there is no electricity in the city, and that is why the residents have to bury their relatives in such a warm weather immediately. The head of one woman who has been buried was almost torn off, and this is very terrible…
“During the first strike I was just holding the Body of Christ [Holy Communion] in my hands. It is such a stressed state – you are holding the Sacrament and suddenly such things are happening. You will never get accustomed to this, but I should note our reaction has already deadened somehow. This no longer fear, but some kind of indignation, which just depresses your spirits.
“We did not stop the service when the shelling started. During the intensive shelling we clergy took Communion in the altar. We hastened to take Communion ourselves and to give Communion to the people, as many of them as had prepared for it. The choir sang with tears on their eyes. The people were kneeling and praying with tears as well. And all calmed down by the end of the service.
“Then we went out and began distributing the humanitarian aid. I asked the people not to stand in large numbers in the street as I noticed that crowds of people attract firing. Since they aim at the places with public gatherings, today it was our church and the central market; the Artema micro-district has its own market , the “Lesnoy”, and it has just been hit today. They also hit a nine-storey block of flats – people have been killed there and most likely even a child.
“It is difficult to understand how citizens of the same country can do this. Even Nazis did not shoot at their own people. And here… How do they think they will justify themselves before God? I cannot imagine.”
This was the seventh case of shelling of Sloviansk churches by the pro-Kiev forces. On May 26, a woman was killed as a result of a mortar explosion during the shelling of the Artema micro-district of Sloviansk by the “Ukrainian” National Guard militants. The woman was standing near the Church of the “Sovereign” (or “Reigning”) Icon of the Mother of God. The church was also damaged: windows were broken and one side of the front was damaged by the mortar splinters, the church fencing was destroyed. On the feast of Pentecost the Church of the Holy Spirit, situated in the city centre, was shelled.
On the night of June 16 the Church of St. Seraphim of Sarov in the Cherevkovka micro-district of Sloviansk was shelled. The watchman’s box and the refectory are completely destroyed. In the same evening the Ukrainian army shelled St. Alexander Nevsky Cathedral of Sloviansk with the Adjacent territory.
On June 19, the target was the Church of Resurrection of Christ, built in the 18th century. The watchman was killed as a result of the shelling.
On June 21, after the Ukrainian “president” Peter Poroshenko had declared a truce, St. Alexander Nevsky Cathedral was shelled again.