2017-01-30 18:01:00

Moscow Patriarchate defends all-Ukrainian sacred procession organizer after Ukrainian Security Service searches his house

Moscow, January 30, Interfax - The Russian Orthodox Church has called unacceptable attempts by the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) to persecute the Archpriest Victor Zemlianoy, a co-organizer and Western leader of the All-Ukrainian sacred procession.

Last week SBU officers searched the priest's house and those of other clergymen of the Rovno Diocese. The searches, during which SBU officers had reportedly been rude to the priest's wife and three young children, were conducted with procedural irregularities.

"I am convinced that any attempts to put pressure on or intimidate people who have made specific sincere steps towards a genuine national reconciliation, can only emanate from those who wish no good on Ukraine and want the civil conflict to continue," Vladimir Legoyda, head of the Russian Orthodox Church's Department for Church, Society and Media Relations, told journalists in Moscow on Monday.

The All-Ukrainian sacred procession, held in the summer of 2016, "gave millions of Ukrainians hope that overcoming the divisions that have ravaged Ukraine recently is achievable but only on the basis of the Orthodox faith which unites and reconciles people of the most varied political views," Legoyda said.

As for Father Victor, whose house was searched recently, among Ukrainian Orthodox Christians he commands "indisputable respect, regardless of their political beliefs and place of residence," Legoyda said.