MOSCOW, March 25. /TASS/. All the channels of communication between the Ukrainian authorities and the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church have been closed, as Kiev demonstrates disrespect and contempt for the clergy and laity of the Orthodox Church, Vladimir Legoida, head of the Russian Orthodox Church’s public and media relations department, said on Friday, commenting on the recent refusal of Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky to meet with hierarchs of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church.
"I wish that the authorities were able to respond not only in a protocol manner, but could demonstrate the necessary flexibility towards representatives of a huge religious community that numbers millions of Ukrainian citizens," Legoida said on the Radio Vera station, noting that currently "all channels of dialogue are closed."
According to the spokesman, the Ukrainian authorities’ excuses that the visit of Synod members was unscheduled cannot be accepted amid an emergency when the Ukrainian Orthodox Church is in fact on the verge of extermination.
"The chosen format of communication evokes nothing but astonishment, regret, and fair criticism," the spokesman for the Russian Orthodox Church stated.
Additionally, Legoida lambasted the pressure on clerics and parishioners of the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church as "real persecution which is manifested in the fact that the state poses a threat to the freedom, safety and lives of priests, bishops and worshippers."
"People go through ordeals, and as a result, they either break down or remain faithful and embark on the path of profession of faith or even martyrdom," Legoida said.
On March 10, an eviction notice from the acting director general of the Kiev-Pechersk Lavra Historical and Cultural Reserve (subordinate to the Ukrainian Ministry of Culture) was published on the monastery’s website, stating that monks affiliated with the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church must leave the Holy Dormition Kiev-Pechersk Lavra by March 29, when the current lease expires.