Traitors or Russian agents? Clergy caught in Ukraine church row

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Source: Reuters

By Matthias WilliamsPavel Polityuk

KIEV (Reuters) – Priests like Metropolitan Oleksandr face a choice: join Ukraine’s new independent church and be labeled a renegade by supporters of his own church, or stay away, and risk being branded a Russian agent.

It is a decision facing thousands of clerics as Ukraine prepares to sever ties to the Russian Orthodox Church going back to 1686.

For the Ukrainian authorities it is an essential step to tackling Russia’s malign influence on its soil, four years after Russia annexed Crimea and backed separatists in a conflict that has killed more than 10,000 people.

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