Priest supporting war in Ukraine receives five year jail term

Ukraine, however, has expressed concern about the loyalties of some of the priests…reports Asian Lite News

The priest of a Russia-backed church in Ukraine has been sentenced to jail for five years for supporting the ongoing war, authorities said.

In a statement on Monday, the Security Service of Ukraine (SSU) said that Metropolitan Ionafan, head of the Tulchin Diocese of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate in Vinnytsia region, was sentenced based on the evidence presented by the special services, Ukrainska Pravda reported. 

The evidence has revealed that the priest had distributed pro-Kremlin propaganda leaflets and literature among churchgoers, in which he called for a seizure of power and a change in the state border of Ukraine, according to the SSU.

On one of the websites of the Russian Orthodox Church, Ionafan also posted material in support of the Russian invasion and war crimes, it added.

Meanwhile, the Ukrainian Prosecutor General’s office said on Monday that “he was found guilty of infringing on territorial integrity, actions aimed at violent change or overthrow of the constitutional order, violation of the equality of citizens, and justification, recognition of the legitimacy, denial of the armed aggression of the Russian Federation against Ukraine”.

The Ukrainian Orthodox Church had traditionally been loyal to the Russian Orthodox Church, whose leader Patriarch Kiril has openly supported Moscow’s brutal invasion of Ukraine.

Splitting with Kiril, the leadership of the church denounced Russia’s attack, and in May 2022, declared its independence from Russia, reports CNN. 

Ukraine, however, has expressed concern about the loyalties of some of the priests.

Last month, Ukraine passed a legislation moving its official Christmas holiday to December 25, further distancing itself from the traditions of the Russian Orthodox Church, which celebrates the holiday on January 7.

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