Ukraine Church leader says Putin 'possessed by Satan'
KIEV, Ukraine – The head of Ukraine's Orthodox Church accused Russian President Vladimir Putin on Saturday, September 6, of being possessed by Satan – a comment certain to outrage tens of millions of faithful in both countries.
Patriarch Filaret issued a statement accusing the Russian leader of trying to "incite bloodshed and killings" in eastern Ukraine where pro-Moscow rebels have been waging a bloody 5-month campaign to establish their own state.
Putin "himself tells obvious outward lies: while organizing and sending mercenary killers to our countries, he talks about an 'internal conflict' in which he is allegedly not involved," said the leader of the Kiev-based patriarchy – one of 4 main Christian faiths in Ukraine.
The patriarch added that Ukrainians had repeatedly called on Putin "and his accomplices to come to their senses, stop sowing evil and death, and repent". (READ: Putin unveils Ukraine peace plan ahead of NATO summit)
"But it seems that he remains deaf to these calls and only multiplies evil because he, like Judas Iscariot, has become possessed by Satan."
About 15% of Ukrainians are believed to be members of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church.
Its much larger Moscow-based counterpart has direct ties to the Russian Orthodox Church led by Patriarch Kirill – a close Putin ally who plays an increasingly visible role in politics. (READ: Putin seeks 'statehood' talks on east Ukraine)
Kirill was forced to cancel his attendance at the July funeral of the former leader of the Moscow-based Ukrainian Orthodox Church because of the embarrassment of facing potential protests by those who accuse Russia of interfering in Ukrainian affairs. – Rappler.com