According to the Interior Ministry, the Russian Orthodox bishop was included on the list of persona non grata on 23 June on the proposal of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

In a comment sent to the news agency ELTA, the Interior Ministry indicated that the decision to bar entry was approved because in his statements Patriarch Kirill denied Ukraine’s territorial integrity, sovereignty and supported Russia’s aggressive actions that grossly violated international law and principles.

The Ministry of Foreign affairs notes that the bishop is a close ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin and one of most vocal supporters of Russia’s war against Ukraine. Appearing on Russian propaganda media he described the Ukrainian people as “participants of the Nazi regime who should be deported or destroyed”. On 27 February, Patriarch Kirill of Moscow blessed Russian soldiers participating in the war against Ukraine and granted canonical justification for the war.

Meanwhile, the Orthodox Church of Lithuania has claimed that earlier in July it filed a request to be granted autonomy from Moscow.

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