Kiev, January 22, 2018
His Beatitude Metropolitan Onuphry of Kiev and All Ukraine, the primate of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, met with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko on Saturday at the presidential administrative offices. The meeting was also attended by the Presidential Representative to the Trilateral Contact Group Irinia Gerascheno. The topic of the meeting was the process of the liberation of Ukrainian prisoners of war located in territories not under Ukrainian control, reports the official site of the President of Ukraine.
During the meeting, President Poroshenko thanked Met. Onuphry and the entire Ukrainian Orthodox Church for its efforts in helping to secure the release of the prisoners and for the rendering of humanitarian aid.
His Beatitude confirmed the Ukrainian Church’s continuing readiness to be the mediator in the liberation of Ukrainian hostages. “Man wants to be free; he was created free by God; he wants this freedom,” Met. Onuphry stated.
The president also stated his readiness to help the Church in working towards the release of political prisoners who are located on the territory of Russia. “Ukraine is ready to take decisive steps towards the return home of our boys and girls,” the head of state said.
He also noted the joy of the nation at the soldiers’ return home and that he had met with the families of several soldiers who remained in captivity, promising to do “everything we can to get them back home as soon as possible.”
By the efforts of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church and the intercession of His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia, Kiev released 306 prisoners, while 73 were released to Ukraine on December 27. The released prisoners later thanked His Beatitude and asked for his assistance in freeing those who remain in captivity.
The details of the prisoner exchange were released following a late December meeting between His Holiness Patriarch Kirill and the leaders of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic and the Lugansk People’s Republic, as well as the head of the public movement “Ukrainian Choice—the People’s Right,” Viktor Medvedchuk.
“This is a very important issue for the Russian Orthodox Church, because this is our flock on both sides. These are our people on both sides. Who so mourns as does the Russian Church in regard to all that is happening, when brother raises a hand against brother? I would like to especially emphasize the necessity of a speedy peaceful solution to this problem… And I greatly appreciate the constructive participation of both sides in the agreement on those positions which we can say, today, we have finally agreed upon,” His Holiness said.