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Orthodox Church of Ukraine granted independence from Russian Orthodox Church

Orthodox Church of Ukraine granted independence from Russian Orthodox Church

The recently formed Orthodox Church of Ukraine has been granted independence, marking a historic split from the Russian Church.

Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew - the head of the global Orthodox Church - has signed a document in Istanbul, Turkey, to that effect.

Ukraine's churches have for centuries been under the authority of the leaders of the Russian Orthodox Church in Moscow.

The Patriarch has signed what is known as a "tomos", a decree officially recognising an independent Ukrainian Orthodox Church, in the presence of Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko.

Istanbul remained the centre of the Orthodox Church after the Muslim Ottoman Turks occupied the city, and then known as Constantinople, in the 15th Century.

What can be the consequences?

The Moscow-based Russian Orthodox Church has at least 150 million followers - more than half the total of Orthodox Christians.

However, in Oct 2018, Russian Orthodox Church cut ties with Constantinople Patriarchate (Istanbul) traditionally regarded as the Orthodox faith's headquarters.

The annexation of Crimea from Ukraine by Russia has intensified the urge for a different religious identity in Ukraine.

Weakening Moscow's influence over Ukrainian worshippers has been an integral part of Ukraine's statehood since the ex-Soviet republic became independent in 1991.

There can be religious conflict in Ukraine between followers of Russian Orthodox Church and the followers of Ukraine Orthodox church.

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