Culture Minister Oleksandr Tkachenko said representatives of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine and the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, a branch of Russia's Moscow Patriarchate, had held a "historic meeting" on July 5 at Kyiv's Saint Sophia Cathedral. He did not comment on the results. In May the Moscow-affiliated Ukrainian Orthodox Church said it would have “full independence” from the Russian Orthodox Church and condemned Russia's war against Ukraine. However, skeptics said it was just a ploy to appease critics since the Ukrainian branch effectively remained part of the Russian church and did not declare “autocephaly” – the Orthodox term for genuine independence. Since Russia launched its invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24, at least 475 parishes have left the Russian-affiliated church and joined the Orthodox Church of Ukraine.
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