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  • » 04/08/2014, 00.00

    RUSSIA - UKRAINE

    The Ukrainian Orthodox Church urges Putin to prevent war and the country's division

    Nina Achmatova

    Metropolitan Antony of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church-Moscow Patriarchate talks about a message personally written by the Church's pro temp head Onufry to the Russian president. As Kyiv launches an anti-terrorist operation against pro-Russian groups in the east, Russia warns against "civil war."

    Moscow (AsiaNews) - Tensions are rising in eastern and southern Ukraine, where Ukrainian Special Forces have cleared some institutional buildings occupied for days by pro-Russian separatists.

    Kyiv has accused Moscow of plotting to carry out a Crimea-style invasion of Ukraine's eastern border regions. At the same time, the United States has called on Vladimir Putin and his administration to "put an end to attempts to destabilise the Ukraine."

    Against this background, Ukraine's pro-Moscow Patriarchate Orthodox Church has directly reached out the Russian president in order to prevent Ukraine's division.

    Onufry, metropolitan of Chernovtsy and Bukovina and pro temp head of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church-Moscow Patriarchate, "personally wrote a letter to Putin, with an appeal to avoid breaking the Ukrainian state and [causing] an armed conflict between our two peoples," this according to the Metropolitan Antony of Boryspil and Brovary, who said, "We believe we can still avoid war".

    Meanwhile, priests from his Church are collecting food, medicines and other basic necessities for the Ukrainian army. "It is not only our duty as citizens, but also as Christians," he explained.

    According Metropolitan Antony, Moscow Patriarch Kirill "is doing everything to prevent bloodshed between brotherly peoples." Onufry himself appealed to the Russian Orthodox primate to use his authority to restore peace.

    The situation, however, faces a worrying escalation, with Russia's Foreign Ministry talking about a possible "civil war" in the former Soviet republic, if repression against separatists in the east continues.

    In fact, overnight on 7-8 April, Ukrainian Special Forces forced out the separatists who in recent days had taken control of important public buildings in some cities in eastern Ukraine, on the border with Russia.

    In cities like Kharkov, Lugansk and Donetsk, pro-Russia groups proclaimed their region's independence, setting up a "People's Republic" and demanding a referendum on secession from Ukraine.

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    See also

    26/08/2014 RUSSIA-UKRAINE
    Putin and Poroshenko meet in Minsk
    No one expresses hopes for an end to growing tensions. Russia wants to send a new aid convoy to the rebel regions and calls for the cooperation of the Red Cross and the Kiev government. Russian soldiers captured in Ukraine. Date for next elections set for October 26.

    07/03/2014 UKRAINE - RUSSIA
    Crimea: Church and pro-Ukraine Crimeans demonstrate for peace
    The Orthodox Metropolitan of Simferopol prays for Ukraine's territorial integrity. Crimean Muslims also demonstrate. Tensions persist between pro-Russia and pro-Ukraine Crimeans. As US and EU threaten Putin with financial sanctions if he does not accept negotiations with Ukraine, fears rise in the Baltic republics.

    06/03/2014 UKRAINE - RUSSIA
    Crimea's Parliament asks to Join Russia
    A referendum date has been set for 16 March in violation of Ukraine's constitution, which provides for a pan-Ukrainian referendum. Christian leaders are united to defend the territorial integrity of the country, including Metropolitan Onufry, who has ties with the Moscow Patriarchate.

    04/03/2014 RUSSIA - UKRAINE
    As Putin stops exercises on Ukraine border, Yanukovych asks him to invade the country
    The Russian president's decision is announced today. The ousted Ukrainian president calls for Russian intervention because "the life and security and the rights of people, particularly in the southeast part in Crimea, are being threatened" and that there were "open acts of terror and violence".

    03/03/2014 RUSSIA - UKRAINE
    Ukrainian Church calls on Moscow Patriarchate to help peace
    The pro tem leader of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (tied to Russia) appeals to Kirill to do everything possible to avoid war. His plea comes after the Kremlin gets the green light to use military force. Russian Orthodox patriarch speaks to President Turchynov by phone.



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