Patriarch Alexis II Meets With New Russian Ambassador to Kyiv
ITAR-TASS/Radonezh, 29 May 2001 On 29 May Patriarch Alexis II of Moscow and all-Rus (pictured at right) met with Victor Chernomyrdin, who was named Russian ambassador to Ukraine. His Holiness informed the Russian ambassador about the situation in the religious life of the republic and turned over all documents pertaining to problems of the complex relations between Orthodox and Ukrainian Catholics, as well as materials describing the essence of the schism that has already existed more than ten years in Ukrainian Orthodoxy.
As a result of the schism, as the patriarch said, in Ukraine there now are besides the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church-Moscow patriarchate, to which the majority of believers belong, also schismatic groupings, the so-called Kyivan Patriarchate, headed by the unfrocked and anathematized Filaret Denysenko, and the so-called "Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church." Victor Chernomyrdin promised the patriarch that in his post as ambassador to Ukraine he will make decisions that are directed toward bringing the peoples of Russia and Ukraine closer together. "Our relations are a two-way street and it is necessary to create mutually beneficial conditions for reviving traditional and adapting new ties," Chernomyrdin said. Disruption of such contacts he considers to be undesirable for both countries; "it is shameful and painful when we disagree, especially in questions of religion," Victor Chernomirdin said. He noted that this "weakens and impoverishes our peoples." The patriarch congratulated Victor Stepanovich on his new appointment, saying that he is bringing to his new post enormous diplomatic, administrative, economic, and humanitarian experience. Photograph of Patriarch Alexis II with the permission of the Russian Orthodox Church.