Ten­sions es­ca­late over Ukraine’s spir­i­tual split from Rus­sia

Daily Sabah (Turkey) - - Regional -

RUS­SIA will pro­tect the in­ter­ests of Ortho­dox be­liev­ers in Ukraine in case of vi­o­lence af­ter the Is­tan­bul-based Ec­u­meni­cal Pa­tri­ar­chate agreed to rec­og­nize the in­de­pen­dence of the Ukrainian Ortho­dox Church, the Krem­lin said Fri­day.

“Rus­sia, as it pro­tects the in­ter­ests of Rus­sians and Rus­sian speak­ers... pro­tects the in­ter­ests of Ortho­dox be­liev­ers,” Krem­lin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told jour­nal­ists when asked about re­ports in Rus­sian me­dia that Ukrainian rad­i­cals plan to storm re­li­gious sites un­der the ju­ris­dic­tion of the Moscow Pa­tri­ar­chate next week. He said in case of “un­law­ful” events such mea­sures would be “ex­clu­sively po­lit­i­cal and diplo­matic.” “This is if the Ukrainian au­thor­i­ties are un­able to keep the sit­u­a­tion within le­gal bounds, if it takes some ugly, vi­o­lent turn,” he said.

The Holy Synod chaired by the Pa­tri­arch of Con­stantino­ple in Is­tan­bul on Thurs­day said it had agreed to rec­og­nize the in­de­pen­dence of the Ukrainian Ortho­dox Church, which has his­tor­i­cally op­er­ated un­der Moscow’s um­brella. The move was met with fury by the Pa­tri­arch of Moscow, who would ef­fec­tively lose in­flu­ence over thou­sands of parishes if they de­cide to split off and join the new in­de­pen­dent church.

Peskov said that the Krem­lin is “very con­cerned” about the de­ci­sion as “ev­ery­thing that hap­pens in the world of Or­tho­doxy is an is­sue of height­ened in­ter­est for the [Rus­sian] govern­ment.” He said how­ever, that the Krem­lin does not in­ter­vene in church af­fairs.

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