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Russia demands Kiev’s explanations over denial of entry to church hierarch

May 12, 2014, 21:55 UTC+3 MOSCOW
Metropolitan Hilarion was denied entry to Ukraine on May 9 and had to return home
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© ITAR-TASS/Sergei Karpov

MOSCOW, May 12. /ITAR-TASS/. The Russian Foreign Ministry demanded explanations and apologies from the Kiev authorities over the denial of entry to Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk.

“Russia is concerned about the continuing measures being taken by the Kiev regime which lead to destabilization of the political situation in the country,” the ministry said on Monday, May 11. “The fragile religious situation in Ukraine has been harmed lately, with the canonical Orthodox Church being the target.”

“On May 9, an unprecedented provocation took place at Dnepropetrovsk’s airport. When passing passport control, Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk, chairman of the Moscow Patriarchate’s Department for External Church Relations, was denied entry to Ukraine without any explanation even though he had come to Dnepropetrovsk on a solely peaceful mission to congratulate Metropolitan Irinei of Dnepropetrovsk and Pavlodar on his 75th birthday, give him a message of congratulations from Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia and present a church award - the Order of St. Prince Daniil of Moscow,” the ministry said.

“We demand that the de facto Kiev authorities provide exhaustive explanations for such disrespectful treatment of a high church hierarch and make apologies,” the ministry said.

The Russian Orthodox Church said that by denying entry to Metropolitan Hilarion the Ukrainian authorities were obstructing the church’s peacemaking mission and trying to convert the current political crisis in the country into a religious one.

“The decision of the Ukrainian authorities is extremely bewildering and deeply regrettable as it was made at a time when the people of Ukraine are going through a period of hardships and the Russian Orthodox Church is doing its best to achieve peace and consensus in the country and to foster dialogue between the warring factions,” the Russian Orthodox Church Department for External Church Relations said.

“The church resolutely condemns all attempts to turn the political and civil conflict in Ukraine into a religious one and, on behalf of its Primate, expresses strong protest against actions that limit its humanitarian activities and obstruct its peacemaking mission,” the statement said.

Metropolitan Hilarion was denied entry to Ukraine on May 9 and had to return home.

The metropolitan headed to Ukraine’s Dnipropetrovsk to take part in the celebrations marking the 75th birthday of the Metropolitan of Dnitropetrovsk.

The Ukrainian authorities stopped the Russian metropolitan at Dnipropetrovsk’s airport, giving him a written notice prohibiting him from entering Ukraine. No explanations were provided.

“Metropolitan Hilarion arrived at Dnepropetrovsk’s airport on May 9 to attend celebrations for the jubilee of the honorable hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Church. He was stopped on passport control. After a long wait, the chairman of the Department for External Church Relations was provided with an official written notice that he was prohibited from entering Ukraine, without stating any reason for such prohibition,” the Department for External Church Relations said.

Since Hilarion could not enter Ukraine, he conveyed Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia’s congratulations to Metropolitan Irinei of Dnepropetrovsk at the airport and gave him the Order of St. Prince Daniil of Moscow. The hierarchs exchanged messages, after which Hilarion left for Moscow last night.

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