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Moldova's Pro-Russian Orthodox Church Mourns Aleksy II

CHISINAU -- Representatives of the Moldovan Orthodox Church subordinate to Moscow are mourning the death of Russian Orthodox Church Patriarch Aleksy II, who died on December 5.

Officials of the pro-Russian Metropolitan Church of Moldova told RFE/RL's Moldovan Service that Aleksy's death is a great loss, adding that his nationality is not relevant for true Moldovan worshippers.

The head of the church, Metropolitan Vladimir, is a member of the Russian Orthodox Church's Holy Synod.

Meanwhile, the pro-Romanian Metropolitan Church of Bessarabia did not comment on the patriarch's death.

The two churches are known historically as fierce rivals. The pro-Romanian Moldovan Orthodox Church was banned by the Soviets in the 1940s after the republic of Moldova was annexed by the Soviet Union.