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Moscow Patriarchate church where Ukrainian soldier was attacked holds first religious service in Ukrainian

by The Kyiv Independent news desk April 2, 2023 10:08 PM 2 min read
This audio is created with AI assistance

A house of worship in the western city of Khmelnytskyi controlled by the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate held its first service in Ukrainian, after a priest allegedly assaulted a Ukrainian serviceman on its grounds.

After the video of the altercation went public, hundreds of Ukrainian protesters gathered at the church, demanding religious leaders of the Moscow Patriarchate to leave the building.

Local residents organized a committee and collected signatures to transfer the building and its property to the Orthodox Church of Ukraine.

A Ukrainian military chaplain named Danylo told news outlet Hromadske that re-registration of the church's property is underway.

The video, published by Khmelnytskyi regional council member Viktor Burlyk, shows a man in a military uniform being shoved and struck by a man in clerical garb, who is then joined by others that shove the soldier against a wall.

The soldier can be heard complaining about the Moscow Patriarchate, which effectively operates as the Ukrainian branch of the Russian Orthodox Church. At one point, the soldier is heard to say that he couldn't breathe.

Burlyk identified the soldier as Artur Ananiev, a volunteer soldier, who sustained a head injury in combat.

The Orthodox Church of Ukraine was granted autocephaly (ecclesiastical independence) by the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Constantinople in January 2019.

Recently, tensions between the two churches intensified after Kyiv ordered the religious leaders from the Moscow Patriarchate to leave the premises of the Kyiv Pechersk Lavra.

The Security Service of Ukraine officially charged the abbot of the Lavra, Metropolitan Pavlo Lebid with supporting Russia's war.

Ukraine has long accused of the Moscow Patriarchate's representatives in Ukraine of serving as the Kremlin's propaganda arm.

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