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Ukraine church leader says Putin has been "possessed by Satan"

Separately, Ukraine’s President Poroshenko and Putin have agreed that the ceasefire agreed yesterday is largely holding.

Image: Alexander Zemlianichenko/AP/Press Association Images

THE HEAD OF Ukraine’s Orthodox Church accused Russian President Vladimir Putin today 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 five-month campaign to establish their own state.

Putin “himself tells obvious outward lies: while organising 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 four 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”.

But it seems that he remains deaf to these calls and only multiplies evil because he, like Judas Iscariot, has become possessed by Satan.

Source: AP/Press Association Images... Ukrainian Orthodox Church Kiev Patriarchate Filaret

About 15 percent 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.

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.

Ceasefire

Separately, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko said this afternoon that he and Putin had agreed during a phonecall that the ceasefire agreed yesterday between Kiev and separatist rebels was largely holding.

“The two heads of state noted (in a phone call) that the ceasefire regime was generally being observed. Petro Poroshenko and Vladimir Putin discussed ways to make the ceasefire hold,” the Ukrainian president’s office said in a statement, after the rebels and government forces accused the other of some truce violations.

© AFP, 2014

Read: Ukraine has agreed a ceasefire with pro-Russian rebels

Read: Russia warns it will “react” against new sanctions from Europe

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