Moscow (AsiaNews) - The Greek Catholic Church has issued a plea to the international community to end the bloodshed in Ukraine, caused, it said, by Russia. This comes as non-Russian Catholic and Muslim clergymen face difficulty in getting residence permits in the Crimea, the peninsula on the Black Sea annexed by Moscow after a referendum in March.
"We lift our voice in the name of the people of Ukraine and we call to the peoples of the world: 'Ukraine is bleeding.' This peaceful, sovereign state suffered a direct military incursion on the part of its northern neighbour," said a statement by the Synod of bishops of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, which met on Wednesday in L'viv, Religiia v Ukraine reported.
For the prelates, "Hundreds of units of heavy weaponry and equipment and thousands of armed mercenaries and troops of the regular army of Russia have crossed the borders of Ukraine and are sowing death and destruction, despite negotiations for a ceasefire and earlier diplomatic efforts"
Equally, the Synod slammed "propaganda, which is no less destructive than weapons of mass destruction," spreading hatred in society, through the distortion of the facts.
"Anybody who is killing people in Ukraine will not hesitate tomorrow to turn his weapon against anyone in his own country and beyond its borders and to attack any state in the world," the bishops warn.
"Stop the bloodshed in Ukraine"! Silence or inaction or refusal to recognise will turn everyone into "an accomplice in the sin of murder that cries to heaven for justice," the bishops said in their appeal, which is addressed to believers of different religions and confessions, people of good will, heads of state and members of the world community.
Meanwhile, in Crimea foreign members of religious communities are facing problems. Forum 18 reports that Russia's Federal Migration Service refused to extend residence permits of 18 of 23 Turkish imams and religious teachers serving in Crimea, claiming the Muftiate could not invite any foreign citizens until it has gained registration under Russian law.
Others have complained that they are under constant watch by Russia's Federal Security Service (FSB). For example, Bogdan Kostetsky, a Greek Catholic priest reported being questioned several times. FSB officials denied summoning him.