25 July 2008, 17:09
Kiev streets change Alexy II posters for the photos of Patriarch Bartholomew (updated)
Kiev/Moscow, July 25, Interfax - Posters with Patriarch Alexy II of Moscow and All Russia announcing his visit to Kiev celebrations of the 1020th anniversary of Russia's Baptism are altered for images of Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople in city streets.
Member of the Day of Russia's Baptism international public organization Yuri Molchanov said at Kiev-Moscow TV Bridge that he saw with his own eyes Kiev municipal services changing ad posters with the Moscow Patriarch portraits for the photos of Bartholomew depicted with Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko.
He went on to say that the Ukrainian national council on television and radio broadcasting banned all TV and radio companies to broadcast ads of the Orthodox rock-tour final concert dedicated to the 1020th anniversary of Russia's Baptism that was to be held on Saturday at the Kiev Independence Square.
Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I of Constantinople arrived in Kiev on Friday morning to attend the celebration ceremonies.
While speaking at the Borispol airport outside Kiev, Yushchenko described Bartholomew I's visit as "a great day for Ukraine and the Ukrainian people."
"This is a sign of divine blessing for all Ukrainian people and the acknowledgment of their thousand-year-old services," he said.
Bartholomew I said in his speech, "We have arrived here to pray together with you for the unification of all Orthodox Christians in Ukraine in one church, the church of your people and the church of your country. We have arrived here as angels of the world, unity, freedom, and peace."
Bartholomew I was enthroned in November 1991. He earlier visited Ukraine on September 24, 1997 to meet with Patriarch Alexy II of Moscow and All Russia in Odessa.
The organizers of the celebrations expect up to 60,000 guests. Alexy II is to come to Kiev on Saturday.
The program of the celebrations includes both political and ecclesiastic components. Among the initiators of the event were organizations criticizing the existence of non-canonical Orthodox denominations in Ukraine. Certain press reports suggested that Patriarch Bartholomew I could make a statement on subjecting the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church and the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Kiev Patriarchate to the Constantinople Patriarchate.
The Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate doesn't recognize the legitimacy of the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church and the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Kiev Patriarchate.
Yushchenko, who was among the initiators of inviting Patriarch Bartholomew I to Kiev has said on several occasions that the celebrations of the 1020th anniversary of the Baptism of Kievan Rus would provide an incentive to unification processes in the Ukrainian Orthodoxy.
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