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Zelensky addresses Ukrainians on Orthodox Easter: 'Heaven sees our faith and firmness'
President Volodymyr Zelensky made a video address to Ukrainians on Orthodox Easter, saying Russia's all-out war "cannot erase us, our values, our traditions, and our holidays."
Ukraine's Orthodox Christians, which make up the majority of the country's population, are celebrating Easter on April 16, the second to occur since Russia launched its all-out war on Feb. 24, 2022.
Orthodox churches calculate Easter according to the Julian calendar, meaning it typically occurs a week after the Catholic church's Easter, which follows the Gregorian calendar.
"Today we celebrate the holiday of the Resurrection of the Lord. Its main symbol is the victory of goodness, truth, and life. We welcome Easter with unshakable faith in the irreversibility of these victories. On this day a year ago, we all prayed that Ukraine would endure, today — that Ukraine will win," Zelensky said.
During his video address, Zelensky honored those who lost their lives defending Ukraine against Russian aggression and acknowledged the ongoing efforts of those who continue to fight.
Zelensky further emphasized the unity of Ukraine as "one family, one Maidan." Although he acknowledged that challenging times were ahead, Zelensky expressed his confidence that Ukrainians would face them together.
"Heaven sees our faith and firmness. The world sees our courage and indomitability. The enemy sees our strength and determination," Zelensky said.
"Ukraine will see the light of victory. Belief in it unites all of us - always, but especially today. On Easter, which has always been a family holiday for Ukrainians, a day of warmth, hope and great unity."
Zelensky's video address was filmed at the site of the Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra, a historic Orthodox monastery that has become one of the symbols of Ukraine's ongoing struggle to break free of the influence of the Moscow Patriarchate.
Both the Orthodox Church of Ukraine and the Russian-linked Ukrainian Orthodox Church held Easter services on the premises of the Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra on April 16.
The Orthodox Church of Ukraine, granted autocephaly (ecclesiastical independence) by the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Constantinople in January 2019, is not to be confused with the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate. Ukraine has long accused the Moscow Patriarchate's representatives in Ukraine of serving as the Kremlin's propaganda arm.
The Russian-controlled church's lease on a part of the Kyiv Pechersk Lavra- called the Upper Lavra- expired on Jan. 1, and the Ukrainian government decided not to extend the lease. Later the Ukrainian authorities said they would also terminate the Russian-affiliated church's indefinite lease on the remaining part, the Lower Lavra, starting from March 29, accusing it of violating the terms of the lease.
The Orthodox Church of Ukraine held a Christmas service on Jan. 7 at the Lavra for the first time.
Metropolitan Epiphanius, the head of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine, said on March 18 that those who renounce Moscow's religious authority can continue to serve at the monastery.