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Ukrainians are God’s chosen people – Zelensky

Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky has proclaimed that God is an “ally” of Ukraine in the conflict with Russia. Despite his invoking of the Almighty, Zelensky has led a crackdown on the Orthodox Church for the last two years.

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As Orthodox Christians celebrated Easter on Sunday, Zelensky released a video address from Kiev’s Saint Sophia Cathedral, in which he accused Russia of “breaking all the commandments.”

“The world sees it, God knows it,” he said. “And we believe God has a chevron with the Ukrainian flag on his shoulder. So, with such an ally, life will definitely win over death.”

Zelensky’s appeal to Christians came as Ukraine’s parliament examines legislation that would close down the country’s largest Christian church, the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (UOC). While the law has sat in parliament for months, Zelensky’s government has moved to restrict the Church’s activity since the conflict began in 2022.

The Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) has opened dozens of criminal cases against UOC priests, has sanctioned clerics, and stripped at least 19 bishops of their Ukrainian citizenship, according to TASS news agency. Church property has been seized, and monks evicted from the Kiev Pechersk Lavra, an ancient monastery and the most prominent Orthodox site in Ukraine.

The UOC has deep historical ties with the Russian Orthodox Church (ROC), which it renounced after Russia launched its military operation in Ukraine in February 2022. Despite declaring autonomy from the ROC, Zelensky has accused the UOC of functioning as an “agent of Moscow,” and promoted the government-created Orthodox Church of Ukraine (OCU) as its replacement.

A non-canonical organization, the OCU was established by the government of President Pyotr Poroshenko after the US-backed coup in Ukraine in 2014.

READ MORE: Ukrainian secret police targets Christian journalists

Earlier this year, a group of lawyers wrote to British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, warning him that banning the UOC could cause “serious harm to Orthodox Ukrainians” and have “dire ramifications for Ukraine’s entry into the European Union and its place in the Western world.”

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