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Ukraine Cross Procession format to be changed amid security fears — minister

July 26, 21:27 UTC+3 KIEV
Cross procession was blocked on Tuesday after fake mines and ball grenades were found planted among the itinerary in Ukraine’s capital
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© Maxim Pab/TASS

KIEV, July 26. /TASS/. Ukrainian law enforcement officials have reached an agreement with the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (the Moscow Patriarchate) to change the scheme for the Cross Procession in the capital, Interior Minister Arsen Avakov told a briefing on Tuesday after Ukrainian cops earlier shut down Kiev church procession amid security fears.

He said an agreement was reached with Metropolitan Onufriy, and "we are now localizing this situation, the believers will stop the procession, take buses and head to the site of the overnight rest".

Avakov said all buses will be checked and all participants in the Cross Procession will be guarded by police officers during the night.

Security will be tough at a prayer service in Kiev on Wednesday, he said. "We are imposing a special regime, but every citizen will be able to attend this church service, we will ensure their safety," he said, adding that metal detectors would be installed on Saint Vladimir Hill.

Cross procession was blocked on Tuesday after fake mines and ball grenades were found planted among the itinerary in Ukraine’s capital.

The K-9 police unit’s bomb-sniffing dogs found two fake explosives and uncovered two sites where ball grenades with smoke barrels were planted, Avakov’s adviser Anton Gerashchenko said in a Facebook post on Tuesday.

He said church officials had been asked to use buses in order to ensure participants’ safety on route to the religious procession service.

Many thousands of people have joined the procession in the polarized regions of eastern and western Ukraine in an expression of peace, civil reconciliation and an end to the civil war that has wracked eastern Ukraine. The procession started from two opposite parts of Ukraine. The all-Ukrainian Cross Procession for peace in Ukraine started in the Svyatogorsk Lavra monastery in the east of the country on July 3 and in the west of Ukraine - in Pochayiv Lavra monastery on July 9.

On July 27 - the eve of the Day of the Baptism of Russia and the memory of Prince Vladimir, the two processions are to meet in Kiev on Saint Vladimir Hill and together with the Orthodox believers of the Ukrainian capital and pilgrims from all over Ukraine go to Kiev Pechersk Lavra.

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