Kiev, February 7, 2019
Former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych spoke at a press conference yesterday against current President Petro Poroshenko’s interference in religious matters that are aimed at division and enmity, reports RIA-Novosti.
“The state, politicians, and the president absolutely should not have interfered in religious matters,” the former head of state said. “The Church has always been separate from the. Throughout the entire history of independent Ukraine, none of the presidents allowed themselves to interfere in Church matters.”
In Yanukovych’s view, everything that has happened concerning the Ukrainian Orthodox Church was aimed not at reducing tension, not at seeking ways to unite, “but at division, enmity, and hatred.”
Meanwhile, Poroshenko has repeatedly said that he sees no state interference in Church matters, despite the fact that the government appealed for Church autocephaly and has passed several laws dictating Church names and how churches decide their membership.
Yanukovych served as the fourth president of Ukraine from February 2010 until he was removed in February 2014 by the Ukrainian revolution. He is currently living in exile in Russia, and was recently sentenced to 13 years in prison in absentia for high treason by a court in Kiev.
Yanukovych also commented that Poroshenko will try to win the upcoming election at any cost, including fraud.
His Beatitude Patriarch Theophilos III of Jerusalem, who recently canceled a meeting with Poroshenko, later sent him a letter and spoke with him on the phone, urging him to terminate the political persecution against Yanukovych and to involve him in the peace process in Donbass. “Because a broad dialogue is needed for reaching the national reconciliation, and it should involve the people from the Donbass region, President Yanukovych could become one of such representatives,” writes the Jerusalem Post.
“It is in this spirit of mercy and reconciliation exemplified by our Lord Jesus Christ that I appeal to you, Your Excellency, to extend mercy to your predecessor,” the letter reads.
It also speaks of using “any possibilities for peace at our disposal,” and reminds the President that those in authority “have the opportunity to lead the world in a better, more promising direction.”
“We are confident that Mr. Yanukovych, likewise, would be very willing to put all his efforts towards this,” the letter reads.
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