Russian President Vladimir Putin is trying to use religion to advance an expansionist agenda. But an increasing number of believers in Ukraine appear to be rejecting the notion that Putin and the Russian Orthodox Church are the defenders of the true faith.
Religion became a battleground in Ukraine long before the Euromaidan movement gained power in Kyiv, Russian troops snatched Crimea and separatists plunged eastern Ukraine into civil warfare. The struggle has been rooted mainly in differences over church polity, rather than doctrinal disputes. Its origin can be traced to the Soviet collapse in 1991. Having regained statehood at that time, Ukraine’s new political leadership helped some Ukrainian clerics declare ecclesiastical independence from the Moscow in 1992 by establishing the Ukrainian Orthodox Church-Kyiv Patriarchate.
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Katya Kumkova is a EurasiaNet staff reporter.