Jan 14, 2019

A church under surveillance by a man in a Toyota

This is the story according to Father Volodymyr - a Russia-trained priest of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church - of how a delegation from the town council, with a supporting cast of local political "Activists", had come to the church to execute an order ejecting him and his family from rooms they had occupied for some 20 years. Across Ukraine, congregations and priests are switching, voluntarily or otherwise, from Father Volodymyr's branch of the church, known as the Moscow Patriarchate - dominant here since the collapse of the Soviet Union, headed by priests approved by the increasingly politicised Russian Orthodox Church - to a newly recognised Kiev Patriarchate. The congregation - young, old, very young, very old - listen to their priest's account of their church being defiled, with what you might call stoic indignation. Outside the church there is definitely something going on - and it's emanating from a battered white Toyota. We'd first noticed it the day before, parked just outside the church gates, as Father Volodymyr showed us around.

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