MOSCOW, January 18. /TASS/. The Ukrainian Orthodox Church’s (UOC) request that Russia not speak on its behalf at international venues was made under pressure from Ukrainian political forces, Vakhtang Kipshidze, the deputy chair of the Russian Orthodox Church’s public relations department, said on Wednesday.
Earlier, the UOC, while commenting on a meeting of the UN Security Council called on December 17 at the initiative of Russia, said that on its part, it had not turned to any state with a request for assistance in protecting its rights. Also, the UOC called the Russian Orthodox Church "a structure that had no connection with itself," and also called on Russia not to speak on its behalf on international platforms.
"In my opinion, such a statement should be taken with a grain of salt since the Ukrainian Orthodox Church is being held hostage by part of the Ukrainian political establishment. It really is a hostage, with a gun to its head, and therefore any statements made by the Church’s official representatives on its behalf, should be looked at through the lens of this sad circumstance," Kipshidze said on the Soloviev.Live television channel.
Kipshidze recalled that the Russian Orthodox Church constantly prays that the Ukrainian Orthodox Church and its flock remain intact. According to the deputy chair of the Russian Orthodox Church’s public relations department, not only are Orthodox Christians subject to physical pressure, humiliation and bullying in Ukraine, but Western ideologies are also being imposed on them to appease the current political agenda.
"We can only pray that the Lord will strengthen those clerics, laity, and bishops who are now on sanctions lists, who are in the torture chambers of Ukraine’s security services," he said.
The UOC is a self-governing church with broad autonomy within the Moscow Patriarchate. The special status of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church is reflected in the Charter of the Russian Orthodox Church, which the Council of Bishops adopted in 2000. However, on May 27 of last year, the Council of the UOC announced the adoption of amendments to the UOC Charter, declaring its complete independence. At the same time, the Ukrainian authorities recently stepped up a campaign against the UOC. Since November 2022, the Ukrainian security service, SBU, has been conducting searches in its churches and dioceses throughout the country. Several hierarchs were charged with treason and subversive activities.