Patriarch Kirill to meet for talks with Ukrainian president
The head of the Russian Orthodox Church will meet for talks on Friday with Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych, press service of the Russian Patriarch said.
Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia is currently on a visit to Ukraine, where he arrived on Tuesday starting the visit with the southern Ukrainian city of Odessa on the Black Sea.
"The meeting will take place at a summer residence of the president in Crimea," the press service said, RIA Novosti reported.
Russian Orthodox Church spokesman Vladimir Legoida said earlier that Kirill and Yanukovych would be discussing a broad range of issues.
"The Patriarch and the Ukrainian president have long-standing personal and working relations. I believe they will easily find topics for a mutually beneficial conversation," Legoida said.
The Orthodox Church in Ukraine split in the 1990s following the breakup of the Soviet Union into followers of the Moscow Patriarchate and those seeking an independent national church. The Ukrainian Church of the Moscow Patriarchate is recognized worldwide, while the other churches are not.
During his visit to Ukraine last summer, Kirill spoke a lot of healing the rift and restoring a united Orthodox Church in Ukraine, which was then less possible under then-president Western-leaning Viktor Yushchenko.
The Russian Church hopes that under Yanukovych, who has a friendlier attitude to Russia and clearly supports the Moscow Patriarchate, the political reasons for the split in the Ukrainian Church will be forgotten and the split overcome.