MOSCOW, February 21. /TASS/. Russian President Vladimir Putin has stated that the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate had been fully independent from Moscow before the schism.
"The Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate is in fact fully autonomous. It has been fully autonomous all along in all respects, including the election of hierarchs," Putin told TASS in an interview for the project entitled "20 Questions with Vladimir Putin".
"There has only been full communion and the liturgical commemoration of the Moscow Patriarch, who was recalled all the time in churches. That's it! It has been the only thing uniting the Russian Orthodox Church and the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate. But they needed to cut the cords that bind. Why?" he asked.
Putin stressed that many people were unaware of that. "They’ll understand better, if they know it. They should be told that," he believes.
In 2018, after the Unification Orthodox Assembly in Kiev, two non-canonical religious organizations - the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church and the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Kiev Patriarchate merged under a common name of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine, which was given autocephaly by the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew II of Constantinople. The Russian and Ukrainian Orthodox churches do not recognize the OCU as a canonical church. The OCU’s recognition was the reason why the Russian Orthodox Church severed full communion with the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople and also with the Archbishop of Athens and All Greece and the hierarchs of the Greek Orthodox Church and the Orthodox Church of Alexandria.
Episode 2 of the video interview is available at https://putin.tass.ru/en.