Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky announced he is seeking to ban all religions with ties to Russia. He claims the move is needed to "guarantee spiritual independence to Ukraine."
This law will target millions of Ukrainians who identify as Russian Orthodox.
During his nightly address on Thursday, Zelensky announced he was introducing legislation that would eliminate religious organizations affiliated with Russia from operating in Ukraine. He said this will make "it impossible for religious organizations affiliated with centers of influence in the Russian Federation to operate in Ukraine."
The Ukrainian leader said it was necessary to purge the church to preserve the country's spiritual independence. Adding, "We will never allow anyone to build an empire inside the Ukrainian soul." Zelensky denounced Ukrainians continuing to attend the parishes as failing to overcome "the temptation of evil."
He claimed a series of recent raids by Kiev's intelligence found orthodox churches which remain connected with the Moscow Patriarchate have been acting as operatives for the Kremlin. In his address, Zelensky instructed his security forces to further target Russian Orthodox parishes.