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Zelenskyy seeks ban on Moscow-connected religious groups

Deseret News 12/2/2022 Hanna Seariac
Ukrainian President-elect Volodymyr Zelenskiy stands on a podium during his inauguration ceremony in Kiev, Ukraine, on Monday, May 20, 2019. Zelenskyy said that a new law that bans certain religious groups from Ukraine may be key to securing “Ukraine’s spiritual independence.” © Efrem Lukatsky, Associated Press Ukrainian President-elect Volodymyr Zelenskiy stands on a podium during his inauguration ceremony in Kiev, Ukraine, on Monday, May 20, 2019. Zelenskyy said that a new law that bans certain religious groups from Ukraine may be key to securing “Ukraine’s spiritual independence.”

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said that a new law that bans certain religious groups from Ukraine may be key to securing “Ukraine’s spiritual independence.”

This law would ban any group with a central affiliation in Russia from operating in Ukraine, CNN reports. Russia invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24, per the Deseret News. BBC quoted Zelenskyy’s adviser, Mykhailo Podolyak, who said that since the war started, between 10,000 and 13,000 Ukrainian troops have been killed in the conflict.

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Ukraine is seeking the ban because it believes that it will prevent potential manipulation.

In an address given on Thursday, Zelenskyy recalled that 31 years prior, the Act of Proclamation of Independence of Ukraine passed.

“Ukrainians will never again be gears of some empires. We have already gained it and we will ensure the full independence of our state,” he said.

Zelenskyy added, “We will ensure, in particular, spiritual independence. We will never allow anyone to build an empire inside the Ukrainian soul.”

In addition to banning certain groups, Zelenskyy said that the country would issue personal sanctions and take measures to ensure that the religious activities of Ukrainians are protected from “subversive activities of Russian special services.”

According to The New York Times, Zelenskyy called for the “nation’s largest and oldest branch of Christian Orthodoxy to be outlawed as long as it continues to answer to church leaders in Moscow.”

The war has strained relationships between the Orthodox Church of Ukraine and the Russian-centered Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate, reports The New York Times. The Russian-centered church declared independence from Moscow and condemned the war, but it has ties to the Russian Orthodox Church.

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The Russian Orthodox Church is headed by Patriarch Kirill. Per the Deseret News, Kirill has ties to the Kremlin. He and Russian President Vladimir Putin were both in the KGB around the same time and there’s speculation that the Kremlin is responsible for the extensive net worth that Kirill has.

Kirill has supported Putin’s war, according to Reuters. Russia has attempted to bring the Ukrainian Orthodox Church under one patriarch, but Ukraine has resisted that move for years, the Deseret News reports. The Ukrainian Orthodox Church has sought formal independence on different occasions, but has not been able to secure it, said The New York Times.

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