Moscow, December 20, Interfax - The Ukrainian Orthodox Church says that the Verkhovnaya Rada's decision to oblige it to change its name is illegal and that the church is ready to defend it.
"It is absolutely obvious that the state's interference in church affairs, the abuse of its powers, and violation of the Constitution are apparent. The Church can be renamed only by its own decision; the state is not entitled to do so," spokesman Vasily Anisimov told Interfax on Thursday.
He was commenting on Rada's approval of a bill compelling the Church to indicate its affiliation with a church based in the "aggressor country" in its name.
"The Ukrainian Orthodox Church will counter lawlessness with respect to it in every legal way," Anisimov said.
At the same time, he could not answer a question about whether Ukrainian authorities have real administrative capabilities for renaming the Church. "It is real that there is lawlessness in our country in general. Tricks of local authorities near Europe, this is what is happening now with respect to Ukrainian Church," the interlocutor of the news agency said.
"The new church, which was created last weekend, is not entitled to be called an Orthodox one," he said. "People should not be misled. There is and has always been an Orthodox Church in Ukraine. They are not entitled to imitate what they are," Anisimov said.