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Ukraine's parliament advances bill seen as targeting Orthodox church with historic ties to Moscow
Ukraine’s parliament has overwhelmingly voted to advance legislation seen as effectively banning the Ukrainian Orthodox Church over its ties to Moscow
Ukraine's parliament voted overwhelmingly Thursday to advance legislation seen as effectively banning the Ukrainian Orthodox Church over its ties to Moscow, despite the church's insistence that it is fully independent and supportive of Ukraine's fight against Russian invaders.
The Verkhovna Rada, or parliament, voted 267-15 on the measure, which requires further voting before it gets finalized and reaches the desk of President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. The legislation would prohibit the activities of religious organizations "that are affiliated with the centers of influence of a religious organization, the management center of which is located outside of Ukraine in a state that carries out armed aggression against Ukraine.”
That is seen as directly targeting the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, one of two rival Orthodox bodies in the country, where a majority of citizens identify as Orthodox.
The UOC has historically been affiliated with the Moscow Patriarchate. It declared its full independence from Moscow in May 2022, three months after the Russian invasion of Ukraine, and has repeatedly declared its loyalty and called on members to fight for Ukraine. Its leader, Metropolitan Onufry, said earlier this month that it's the “sacred duty” of every believer to defend Ukraine.