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Russian Orthodox Church claims transfer of Ukraine's POWs to Hungary

by Martin Fornusek June 9, 2023 12:38 AM 2 min read
Russian Orthodox Metropolitan Tikhon Shevkunov (L) and Patriarch Kirill (R) attend the opening ceremony of the monument to Prince Alexander Nevsky on Sep. 11, 2021. (Photo credit: Mikhail Svetlov/Getty Images)
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The Russian Orthodox Church announced through its press service on June 8 that it handed over a group of Ukrainian prisoners of war to Hungary. The supposed transfer happened at the request of Budapest and with the "blessing" of the Moscow Patriarch Kirill.

One of the supposedly involved mediators was a charity of branch of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, a global lay Catholic religious order.

RBC-Ukraine reported earlier today on the Church's plan to transfer at least 11 soldiers of "Zakarpattia origin" to Hungary, without any coordination with Kyiv.

Ukraine's westernmost Zakarpattia Oblast is home to many ethnic Hungarians holding Ukrainian citizenship, of which more than 400 are serving in the country's military.

According to RBC-Ukraine's sources, with the transfer the Russian Orthodox Church hopes to win back its legitimacy following Western sanctions, portray ethnic Hungarians as "victims" of the Kyiv regime," and delegitimize the process of prisoner exchanges by excluding Ukraine.

The Russian Orthodox Church is closely linked with the Kremlin power structures and provides public and political support to its leadership. Its current Patriarch Kirill even served as a KGB agent in the 1970s.

Several Western countries slapped sanctions on Kirill for supporting Russian war crimes in Ukraine.

Taras Tarasiuk: How the Russian Orthodox Church’s covert actions against Ukraine have failed
Editor’s Note: The opinions expressed in the op-ed section are those of the authors and do not purport to reflect the views of the Kyiv Independent. The Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate, a Ukrainian branch of the Russian Orthodox Church and not to be confused with the
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