Patriarch Kirill: Ukrainian independent development should not hamper ties with Russia, Belarus


Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia has congratulated Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych on the 20th anniversary of Ukraine’s independence.

“Society has gone through multitudes of difficulties over these years. But their firm faith and spiritual stamina have helped the people of Ukraine both to overcome these difficulties and to form a serious potential for the country’s further development,” Patriarch Kirill said in a message on Wednesday.

He said he hoped that “the unshakable moral values of Orthodoxy and love for one’s nearest and dearest and the Fatherland will continue playing” a significant role in the historic establishment of the sovereign state of Ukraine.

“I am confident that socioeconomic development that is free and does not depend on any external factors should not stand in the way of maintaining and strengthening centuries-old ties between our fraternal Slavic peoples, who share one faith, one spiritual and cultural heritage and, I hope with all my heart, one future,” he said.

Patriarch Kirill thanked Yanukovych for “today’s constructive dialog between the Church and the state” in Ukraine.

“I am convinced that this fruitful cooperation between the Ukrainian Orthodox Church and the secular authorities will continue contributing to the spiritual revival and moral transformation of society, the creation of peace and civil accord,” he said.