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MOSCOW, October 11. /TASS/. The Kremlin is opposed to any steps, which would result in a deep rift in Orthodox Christianity, Russian Presidential Spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters, commenting on the possible provision of independence (autocephaly) to the Ukrainian Church by the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople.

“You know the position of the Russian Orthodox Church concerning this issue. Of course, we do not want any steps to be taken, which would lead to a deep split in Orthodox Christianity,” he said.

In April 2018, Ukrainian President Pyotr Poroshenko addressed Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople with a request to grant autocephaly to the Ukrainian Church.

On September 7, the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople, as part of preparations for granting autocephaly to the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, appointed its exarchs (envoys) in Kiev, which is the Moscow Patriarchate’s canonical territory.

The Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church responded by saying that Constantinople’s actions were a crude violation of church canons and stopped mentioning Patriarch Bartholomew during church services and conducting joint services with Bishops of the Ecumenical Patriarchate.

At present, Ukraine has one canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church, which is a self-governing church constituent of the Moscow Patriarchate. Also, there are two religious organizations not recognized by the Orthodox Christian world – the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Kiev Patriarchate and the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church.

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