2019-02-20 10:04:00

Russian Orthodox Church demands freedom of movement for Ukrainian Orthodox Church priest held in Donbass

Moscow, February 20, Interfax - The head of the Moscow Patriarchate's Department for Church, Society and Media Relations Vladimir Legoyda has criticized attempts to intimidate Metropolitan Mitrofan of Gorlovka and Slaviansk who was held at a checkpoint in the town of Slaviansk.

"Until this moment Metropolitan Mitrofan was enjoying relative freedom of movement which enabled him to communicate with the flock living on both sides of the confrontation," Legoyda was quoted by his department as saying.

The priest, who was held yesterday on suspicion of separatism, is regarded as an authority by people living on both sides of the border created by the conflict in southeastern Ukraine, Legoyda said.

The impression is that by detaining the Ukrainian Orthodox Church archbishop the authorities in Kiev are making yet another attempt to move political divisions into spiritual sphere and undermine the peacemaking service carried out by the UOC, Legoyda said.

"We condemn this act of intimidation against the UOC bishop and remind that arbitrary arrests run counter to democratic standards in the field of human rights," the Moscow Patriarchate representative said.