Photo: RIA-Novosti

Photo: RIA-Novosti – 13/4/17

Leader of the nationalist “Freedom” association Oleg Tyagnibok intends to have the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church-Moscow Patriarchate (UOC-MP) renamed to the “Russian Orthodox Church in Ukraine,” thereby expanding the influence of the self-proclaimed “Kiev Patriarchate” (“KP”), reports RIA-Novosti.

The UOC-MP is a self-governing Church of the Moscow Patriarchate, recognized by and in communion with the entirety of the Orthodox world. Ukraine is also home to the “KP” and the “Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church,” which are both self-proclaimed, and outside of communion with the Orthodox Church.

In its turn, the UOC-MP has long complained about the harassment of its faithful, and the invasion and takeovers of its temples by representatives of the “KP,” often with the assistance of local authorities. This problem has been noted by international platforms at various levels.

“We intend to achieve a renaming of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church-Moscow Patriarchate to ‘The Russian Orthodox Church in Ukraine,’ so that everything would be clear. And it should receive the status of a foreign Church,” declared Tyagnibok.

In his words, it would be a “great and noble task” to spread the influence of the “KP” throughout Ukraine. These remarks came in a talk with parishioners of the Holy Ascension Church in the village of Kozelets in the Chernigov region, which was transferred by local authorities to the “KP” eighteen months ago, before which it had been home to a museum.

In the assessment of Vasily Anisimov, head of the UOC-MP press service, “Freedom” has no chance of achieving such a change, as it is a political party, and Ukraine officially has separation of Church and state. “The Church does not rename ‘Freedom’ to ‘Extremists,’ ‘Parasites,’ or anything like that. And, of course, political parties cannot rename the Church. It is a gross violation of the constitution,” he said.

The UOC-MP has more than 12,000 parishes, while the “KP” has about 1,400 communities.