Russia’s Foreign Ministry yesterday turned down the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry’s October 7 proposal for talks aimed at resolving an inter-church dispute that has degenerated into violence. On September 29, Russian law-enforcement agencies seized a large compound in Noginsk, Moscow region, from the Ukrainian Orthodox Church-Kyiv Patriarchy. The complex consists of a cathedral, a convent, a theological academy, a Ukrainian-language gymnasium, and the residency of the Archbishop who heads this Ukrainian diaspora church. The police used clubs and other instruments of force in clearing the property, and arrested several Ukrainian priests and believers for "hooliganism." Moscow’s Arbitration Court had recently taken the property away from the Ukrainian Church-Kyiv Patriarchate and turned it over to the Russian Orthodox Church. In Kyiv, Ukrainian believers demonstrated outside the Russian embassy in protest. (Russian and Ukrainian agencies, October 7, 9)
The Ukrainian Orthodox Church-Kyiv Patriarchy supports Ukraine’s independence. Its diaspora church in Moscow region counts among its clergymen the veteran campaigner for religious rights, the Russian priest Gleb Yakunin. He is a critic of the Russian Orthodox hierarchy’s record of cooperation with the KGB and of its aspirations to control other Orthodox churches. The Russian Church does not recognize the Ukrainian Orthodox Church-Kyiv Patriarchy, but instead supports its own affiliate in Ukraine.
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