Kiev raids Ortho­dox churches with Rus­sia ties

The Phnom Penh Post - - WORLD -

UKR A INI A N aut hor it ies on Mon­day raided three Ortho­dox churches a ligned to Rus­sia as po­lit­ica l and re­li­gious ten­sion s bet ween t he t wo coun­tries grow.

Au­thor­i­ties also searched the homes of priests who have de­clared their al­le­giance to the Rus­sian branch of the Ortho­dox church, said re­gional po­lice spokes­woman Alla Vashchenko.

The Ukrainian Ortho­dox Church was re­cently granted in­de­pen­dence from Moscow in a con­tro­ver­sial rul­ing that prompted cheers from Kiev.

The neigh­bours have also clashed in re­cent days af­ter Rus­sia seized Ukrainian ships and sailors in the coun­tries’ first open mil­i­tary con­fronta­tion since Moscow’s an­nex­a­tion of Crimea in 2014.

The raids on churches in north­ern Ukraine were part of a probe into the pos­si­ble vi­o­la­tion of a law on equal­ity of re­li­gious be­lief, the spokes­woman said with­out pro­vid­ing de­tails of the in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

“No­body has been ar­rested,” Vashchenko added.

But Arch­bishop Kli­ment Vech­erya, a spokesman for the Rus­sian-aligned Ukrainian church, com­pared the raids to the crack­down on re­li­gious free­doms dur­ing the early Soviet pe­riod.

“Some­thing sim­i­lar hap­pened al­most one hun­dred years ago dur­ing the time of the tyrant Stalin, when priests and bishops were hauled in for ques­tion­ing,” he said.

Metropoli­tan Vis­sar­ion, an of­fi­cial from the Moscow­aligned Ortho­dox Church in the Zhy­to­myr re­gion, said that of­fi­cers “were or­dered to seize ev­ery­thing to do with our church” in Mon­day’s raids.

The raids came three days af­ter au­thor­i­ties searched the res­i­dence of another Moscow­aligned church of­fi­cial, Metropoli­tan Pavlo, who over­sees a ma­jor Kiev monastery.

The Ortho­dox church in Ukraine is di­vided be­tween two main branches, one of which pledges loy­alty to Moscow and one over­seen by the Kiev-based Pa­tri­arch Fi­laret that Moscow does not recog­nise.

In a his­toric de­ci­sion in Oc­to­ber, Ec­u­meni­cal Pa­tri­arch Bartholomew I, con­sid­ered the spir­i­tual leader of Ortho­dox Chris­tians world­wide, agreed to recog­nise the Ukrainian Church’s in­de­pen­dence from Moscow.

The de­ci­sion was a huge blow to Moscow’s spir­i­tual author­ity in the Ortho­dox world.

T h e R u s s i a n C h u r c h a nnounced it wou ld brea k ties wit h t he Con­stantino­ple Pa­tria rchate in protest.

The Russi a n Or tho­dox Church has re­peat­edly voiced fears that Ukraine will use le­gal moves or even force to take con­trol of the churches and monas­ter­ies un­der its con­trol.

Some priests have told their parish­ioners to be ready to de­fend them.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Cambodia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.