Lithuania puts travel ban on Moscow Patriarch Kirill
Lithuania has banned Moscow Orthodox Patriarch Kirill from entering the country because of his support for Russia’s continued invasion of Ukraine, the Interior Ministry confirmed on Wednesday.
The cleric was added to the list of unwanted persons on June 23, without any public announcement until now.
According to the Ministry of Interior, Patriarch Kirill was placed on the list for his deliberate denial of Ukraine’s territorial integrity and sovereignty, and for justifying and supporting Russia’s aggressive actions, which flagrantly violate the norms and principles of international law.
“Patriarch Kirill, a close associate of [Russian President] Vladimir Putin, is one of the most active supporters of the war against Ukraine, and has repeatedly spoken publicly and positively about Russia’s aggression,” the ministry said in a comment.
“Patriarch Kirill openly refers to the Ukrainian people in the Russian propaganda media as ‘participants of the Nazi regime’ who should be deported or destroyed. On February 27, 2022, Patriarch Kirill blessed the Russian troops involved in the war against Ukraine and gave canonical justification for Russia’s war,” it said.
The Patriarch of Moscow will not be able to visit Lithuania at least until June 23, 2027.
Lithuania proposed sanctions against Kirill at the European Union (EU) level last spring, but he was removed from the EU’s sixth sanctions package adopted in June at Hungary’s insistence.
Earlier this month, Lithuanian Orthodox Bishop Ambrose travelled to Moscow to see the Patriarch, and said he received support for the Lithuanian Orthodox Church’s plans to secure greater autonomy from the Moscow Patriarchate.
The Lithuanian cleric also said he had conveyed to Kirill that Lithuanian Orthodox leaders condemn “Russia’s actions, the war”.