Enjoying ad-free content?
Since July 1, 2024, we have disabled all ads to improve your reading experience.
This commitment costs us $10,000 a month. Your support can help us fill the gap.
Support us
Our journalism is banned in Russia. We need your help to keep providing you with the truth.

Patriarch Visit Sparks Protest in Ukraine

Ukrainian police officers detaining a nationalist activist holding a portrait of Patriarch Kirill in Kiev on Monday. Konstantin Chernichkin

KIEV — Ukrainian police detained eight nationalist activists in Kiev on Monday for protesting a visit by the head of the Russian Orthodox Church, which is bidding to boost its influence in the country.

Many Ukrainians refuse to recognize Russia's authority over Orthodox Christianity, a dominant religion in both countries, and accuse Moscow of blocking an independent Ukrainian Orthodox Church from gaining international acceptance.

Dozens of activists chanted "Down with the Moscow pope!" and "Long live Ukraine!" on one of Kiev's central squares as Patriarch Kirill visited the St. Sophia Cathedral.

But they were quickly blocked by police, who detained eight men and stopped the others from approaching Kirill as he left the church. A court has banned all rallies in connection with his visit.

Kirill sought to emphasize the common history of the Russian and Ukrainian Churches, which trace their roots to the conversion to Orthodox Christianity of Prince Vladimir of Kiev in 988.

"Throughout the Holy Rus, there are common saints, common shrines and a common church," Kirill said, Interfax reported.

The Ukrainian church has been split since the Soviet collapse, with some bishops declaring themselves independent of Moscow. Russia's top clergy have prevented the worldwide Orthodox hierarchy from recognizing an independent Ukrainian Orthodox Church.

Kirill is still revered by the biggest branch of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, and hundreds gathered to welcome him when he arrived in Kiev on Sunday.

Ukraine's previous president, pro-Western politician Viktor Yushchenko, had supported the local church's bid for independence, but President Viktor Yanukovych is seen as more amenable to the Moscow church.

… we have a small favor to ask. As you may have heard, The Moscow Times, an independent news source for over 30 years, has been unjustly branded as a "foreign agent" by the Russian government. This blatant attempt to silence our voice is a direct assault on the integrity of journalism and the values we hold dear.

We, the journalists of The Moscow Times, refuse to be silenced. Our commitment to providing accurate and unbiased reporting on Russia remains unshaken. But we need your help to continue our critical mission.

Your support, no matter how small, makes a world of difference. If you can, please support us monthly starting from just $2. It's quick to set up, and you can be confident that you're making a significant impact every month by supporting open, independent journalism. Thank you.

paiment methods
Not ready to support today?
Remind me later.

Read more