The current Kiev authorities’ interference in the affairs of the Church is unacceptable, former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich said at a press conference in Moscow

“It is totally unacceptable when the government, politicians and the president interfere in the matters of faith. The Church has always been separated from the State. Throughout Ukraine’s history, no president ever allowed himself to interfere in church affairs,” Yanukovich pointed out.

He stressed that “everything that happened with the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, was aimed at spreading discord, enmity and hatred rather than at easing tensions and searching for ways to reunite the nation.”

“All of this affects the fragile fabric of the soul,” the former Ukrainian president noted.

 Ukraine’s current leadership has sought to create a local Orthodox church independent of the Moscow Patriarchate in the country since it came to power after the 2014 coup. Last April, Ukrainian President Pyotr Poroshenko sent a letter to Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople requesting autocephaly for the Ukrainian church. The Poroshenko regime cobbled together a “unification council” that was held in Kiev on December 15, which announced the creation of a new church, the so-called Orthodox Church of Ukraine. The Tomos of Autocephaly (a clerical decree on establishing an independent church) was handed over to its head, Metropolitan Epiphany, on January 6.

Both the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church and the Russian Orthodox Church consider the newly-established ecclesiastical institution to be schismatic.

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