Moscow, July 27, Interfax - The Ukrainian Orthodox Church is expecting even more believers to attend the Kiev cross procession marking the 1030th anniversary of the Baptism of Rus than attended last year.
"It is still early to make final assessments, but in any case, there will be more than 100,000 people. I have been on Vladimirskaya Gorka [Vladimir Hill] for more than an hour, waiting for a religious service, and there's a nonstop flow of people coming here from three streets," Ukrainian Orthodox Church spokesman Vasily Anisimov told Interfax-Religion.
He expressed hope that the festivities would not be marred by provocations. "God can never be cursed. Let's hope that everything will be alright," Anisimov said.
Dozens of buses from western Ukraine were stopped on the Zhitomir Highway leading to Kiev this morning because of they had supposedly been mined, he said.
There were reports of attempts to prevent believers from attending the cross procession in several Ukrainian regions on Thursday.
For instance, Ukrainian Security Service officers have stopped five buses in Zaporozhye for several hours under the pretext that they had been mined, the Ukrainian Orthodox Church's press service said.
Cars full of armed people blocked another nine buses from Zaporozhye and Melitopol.
Attempts to keep people from the Kiev cross procession were also undertaken in the Zhitomir and Rovno regions, and obstacles were created for pilgrims from the Nezhin and Odessa dioceses.
Still, tens of thousands of people have come to Kiev, the church's press service said.
The attempts to block the highway have backfired, Archpriest Viktor Zemlianoy of the Rovno Diocese said. "Even more people than expected came because of this resistance," he said.