MOSCOW, October 3. /TASS/. Constantinople Patriarch’s decision to support the independence of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church was made under the influence of Washington, former Ukrainian Prime Minister Nikolai Azarov told a news conference on Wednesday.
Azarov said he met with Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople twice and he made an impression of a person, who is absolutely dependent and is "afraid of his own shadow." The patriarch complained that the Turkish president forced Orthodox hierarchs in the country to get Turkish citizenship. "I will never believe that he suddenly made such a pivotal decision. It’s clear that the Americans had their role and he grew bolder."
According to Azarov, by raising the issue on autocephaly (independence) the Kiev authorities plan to destroy the Ukrainian Orthodox Church. "Unification on the basis of destruction - that’s what the Kiev authorities suggest," he said.
"What’s in the future? Forceful seizure of churches, temples, monasteries…Such games may result in blood and killings," the former premier said.
Ukraine today has one canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church, which is a self-governing church constituent of the Moscow Patriarchate. Also, there are two religious organizations not recognized by the Orthodox world - the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Kiev Patriarchate and the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church. Starting from 1991 the Ukrainian authorities have more than once tried to create a local Orthodox Church independent from the Moscow Patriarchate.
On September 7, the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople within the framework of preparations for granting autocephaly to the Orthodox Church in Ukraine appointed its exarchs, or envoys, to Kiev, which is a canonical territory of the Moscow Patriarchate.
The Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church said in response that Constantinople’s actions were a crude violation of church canons and stopped mentioning Patriarch Bartholomew during church services and conducting joint services with hierarchs of the Ecumenical Patriarchate.