Freedom of assembly took another blow in Ukraine as a court banned protests against the visit to Ukraine by Patriarch Kirill, leader of the Russian Orthodox Church.
July 31, 2010
Week in Review: Russian patriarch visit sparks protests in Ukraine
Yesterday at 22:52 | Mark Rachkevych
Demonstrations went ahead anyway on July 26 in Kyiv as Ukrainian nationalists protested against the pastor‘s week-long visit to Ukraine, which ended on July 28.
Ukrainian police detained eight activists during the protest.
Chanting “Down with the Moscow pope!“ and “Long live Ukraine!,“ dozens of activists gathered at one of Kyiv’s central squares as Patriarch Kirill visited the Saint Sophia Cathedral.
Relations between Russia and western neighbor Ukraine have improved since the Moscow-friendly Viktor Yanukovych was elected president in February. But anti-Russian sentiment remains strong in some parts of the country.
Moreover, many citizens feel the new Ukrainian leader has tilted the country too close to Russia’s orbit of influence, while waging a Putin-style crack down on democratic and media freedoms.
Many Ukrainians refuse to recognize Russia‘s authority over Orthodox Christianity, a dominant religion in both countries, and accuse Moscow of blocking an independent Ukrainian Orthodox Church from gaining international acceptance.
The Orthodox Church in Ukraine has been divided since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 into two patriarchates, with some bishops declaring themselves independent of Moscow.
Russia‘s top clergy have prevented the world-wide Orthodox hierarchy from recognizing an independent Ukrainian Orthodox Church (Kyiv Patriarchate) headed by Patriarch Filaret, which claims to have 14 million believers in Ukraine.
On August 30, 2010, Eugene Kovalenko (aka Arseny Pavel) said...
This conflict is shameful! Surely the Orthodox tradition in Ukraine and elsewhere can exemplify spiritual transformation and growth, rather than ecclesiastical combat! My Ukrainian-born father once said that in the days before the Revolution when the Orthodox Church held the impotent Tsarist government by it's throat, if two Russians met together to discuss politics they would represent 5 political parties! ;)