Moscow, December 20, Interfax - Russian President Vladimir Putin has called the new unified Orthodox church in Ukraine schismatic and described the process of its formation as direct state interference in ecclesiastical affairs, which "defies comprehension."
"What is happening in the Orthodox world [in Ukraine] just boggles the mind, as they say. This is direct state interference in church and religious affairs. Nothing of the sort has happened since Soviet times," Putin said at his annual press conference on Thursday.
Ukraine has "set up this unified schismatic church of the Istanbul parish," he said.
"They didn't like the Moscow parish, so there'll be the Istanbul parish," he said.
The Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate was "absolutely independent," he said.
"Perhaps few people know about this, but this was actually an absolutely independent Church. They did everything on their own, including the election of hierarchs. The only connection was the spiritual one - they mentioned the name of the patriarch of Moscow and All Russia in their sermons. And now look how dependent they are becoming on the Turkish Patriarchate," Putin said.