Russian President Says Ukrainian Orthodox Church Now Totally Independent
01.26.04 (RISU.org.ua) RTR Russia TV, Moscow, in Russian, 24 Jan 04/ BBC
Monitoring Service, UK, in English, Jan 24, 2004 Russian President
Vladimir Putin stated that The Ukrainian Orthodox Church is now totally
independent, including from the Russian Orthodox Church. He talked about
this and other church matters at a meeting in Kyiv with Ukrainian President
Leonid Kuchma and Metropolitan Volodymyr [Sabodan], head of the Ukrainian
Orthodox Church-Moscow Patriarchate, on 24 January 2004.
[Presenter] The second day of the Russian president's Ukrainian visit
started today with a trip to Kiev-Pecherska Lavra [Monastery of the Caves].
[Russian President] Vladimir Putin and [Ukrainian President] Leonid Kuchma
visited one of the most ancient Orthodox holy places. It was founded in the
11th century, among caves on the banks of the Dnieper. [Passage omitted]
The Ukrainian [Orthodox] hierarch presented Putin with an icon depicting
(?Antoniy, Feodosiy) and all Pechera saints who were the monastery's first
priests. Putin responded with a gift of his own - an icon depicting
(?Serafim Sarovskiy) which is almost one hundred years old.
[Putin, presenting the icon] I would like to express my heartfelt gratitude
for the icon and the remarkably kind words. I would like to say that we in
Russia know what Kiev-Pecherska Lavra is. We have not forgotten and will
never forget the fact that it was in the Dnieper that Prince Vladimir
started baptizing Russia. It was not by accident that for a long time it
had been referred to as Kievskaya Rus [Kiev's Rus], Holy Rus.
Today, Kiev-Pecherska Lavra is a symbol of the spiritual unity of Russia
and Ukraine. Thank you very much for your service. I would like to give you
the icon of Serafim Sarovskiy. We are going to celebrate the 250th
anniversary since his birth [several words indistinct]
[Presenter] Vladimir Putin, Leonid Kuchma and Ukrainian church hierarchs
later had a cup of tea together. [Passage omitted] President Putin said he
was aware of the [Ukrainian church] split but was not going to meddle with
church affairs. Nonetheless, he expressed his support for the Ukrainian
Patriarchy. And I quote, the president said that we were with you in spirit.
[Putin] Numerous problems and difficulties have emerged as a result of the
radical historical changes that our peoples had to face at the start of the
1990s. But I would like to say that in these circumstances the role and
significance of Orthodox faith in the spiritual life of our people have
The Ukrainian Orthodox Church is now totally independent, including from
the Russian Orthodox Church. The only link that remains between the
churches is the canonical and spiritual link. In my view, this is a very
important factor in the unity of our peoples.