Highlights

  • Ukraine's Interior Ministry put head of Russia's Orthodox Church on a wanted list
  • Country accused him of supporting the 21-month-old war against Kyiv
  • Ministry says he is missing since Nov 11

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Ukraine brings church into war, Russia's top Orthodox priest in 'wanted list'

The head of Russia's Orthodox Church, Patriarch Kirill, has been put in a wnated list by Ukraine's interior ministry on Friday. 

Ukraine brings church into war, Russia's top Orthodox priest in 'wanted list'

Ukraine's Interior Ministry took a symbolic step on Friday, putting Patriarch Kirill, the head of Russia's Orthodox Church, on a wanted list.

The security services accused him of supporting the 21-month-old war against Kyiv. Despite being on the list, there is no real threat of arrest as Patriarch Kirill is currently in Russia.

This move is a part of Ukraine's efforts to remove the influence of priests with alleged close ties to Russia, which they claim subvert Ukrainian society.

A post on the Ukrainian ministry's wanted list identified Kirill, stating that he is "an individual in hiding from the bodies of pre-trial investigation" and has been "missing" since November 11.

Ukraine, where Orthodox Christianity is the dominant faith, has initiated criminal cases against clergy associated with a branch of the Orthodox church formerly linked to the Russian church and Kirill.

The Ukrainian Parliament is considering a bill to ban this branch of the church, which lost many of its parishioners since Russian troops entered Ukraine in February 2022. The church claims to have severed all ties with Moscow in May 2022.

Last month, Ukraine's SBU security service claimed that Kirill "infringed Ukrainian sovereignty" due to his position as "part of the closest entourage of Russia's military and political leadership." Security forces have launched numerous criminal cases, including treason accusations, against priests and officials associated with the Moscow-linked branch of the church.

Despite the accusations, Kirill denounced the actions and appealed to clerical leaders worldwide to halt Ukraine's moves against the church. A senior official in the Russian church called the decision to put Kirill on a wanted list "ridiculous and predictable." Vladimir Legoida, responsible for ties with other churches, accused Ukrainian authorities of "lawlessness and attempting to intimidate parishioners."


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