VILNIUS, July 27. /TASS/. Lithuania has banned the head of the Russian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Kirill, from entering the territory of the republic because of his support for Russia's special military operation in Ukraine, the DELFI news portal reported on Wednesday, citing the Lithuanian Foreign Ministry.
"Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia has been banned from entering Lithuania for supporting [Russia's special military operation]," the foreign ministry said in a statement. It is specified that the Lithuanian authorities included the head of the Russian Orthodox Church in the list of undesirable persons on June 23. On Wednesday, the Lithuanian Interior Ministry stated that "the patriarch deliberately denies territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine, justifies and supports <...> the actions of the Russian Federation," which, according to the Ministry, creates sufficient grounds for introducing such a ban against him.
Earlier, Vladimir Legoyda, Chairman of the Moscow Patriarchate’s Synodal Department for the Church’s Relations with Society and Mass Media, said that the head of the Russian Orthodox Church does not react in any way to the sanctions against him. According to Legoyda, the patriarch is only concerned with the sanctions’ effect on the lives of foreign parishes and parishioners of the Russian Orthodox Church. In his sermons, the head of the Russian Orthodox Church repeatedly urged the bishops, clergy, and all believers to remain faithful to the unity of the church and pray for the restoration of peace in Ukraine.
On February 24, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced a special military operation in response to a request for help by the heads of the Donbass republics. He stressed that Moscow had no plans of occupying Ukrainian territories and that the goals were to demilitarize and denazify the country.