Russian Orthodox priests -- accompanied by armed men -- have attempted to seize two Crimean churches belonging to the Ukrainian Orthodox Church--Kiev Patriarchate, the Catholic Culture website reports today (March 22, 2014).
Established in 1992 -- as a by-product of the collapse of the Soviet Union -- the Ukrainian Orthodox Church--Kiev Patriarchate is led by Patriarch Filaret, who has been excommunicated by the Russian Orthodox Church.
"Today the seizure of places of worship in Crimea is being triggered by Russia," said Yevhen Nyshchuk, Ukraine's minister of culture, according to a report from the Religious Information Service of Ukraine.
Ukraine has two separate Ukrainian Orthodox churches -- that of the Moscow Patriarchate, which falls under the jurisdiction of the Russian Orthodox Church based in Moscow, and that of the Kiev Patriarchate, which falls under the jurisdiction of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church based in Kiev. There is also the Ukrainian Autocephalous (self-governing) Orthodox Church, which the other canonical Orthodox churches refuse to recognize.