Members of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church (UGCC) are fleeing Crimea to escape threats of arrest and property seizures by Russian forces, according to a priest in the Black Sea peninsula recently annexed by Russia, the Catholic News website reports today (March 25, 2014).
"The situation remains very serious, and we don't know what will happen -- the new government here is portraying us all as nationalists and extremists," said Fr. Mykhailo Milchakovskyi, a parish rector and military chaplain from Kerch, Crimea.
He said that officials from Russia's FSB (Federal Security Service) had called him in for questioning about his community and to ask whether he "recognized the new order." He added that he and his family -- and at least two-thirds of his parishioners -- had left Kerch for Ukrainian-controlled territory on the advice of UGCC Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk of Kiev-Halych.
"All my parishioners are patriotic Ukrainians who love their Crimean homeland. But Russia is now seeking to drive us out," Fr. Milchakovskyi said today.