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Ukrainian City Bans Protests Against Russian Patriarch

Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia Kirill (in blue) blesses the Savior's Transfiguration Cathedral in Odesa on July 21.
DNIPROPETROVSK, Ukraine -- The Dnipropetrovsk city council in eastern Ukraine banned pickets during the visit of Russian Orthodox Church Patriarch Kirill, RFE/RL's Ukrainian Service reports.

Kirill visited Dnipropetrovsk on July 23 as part of an eight-day tour through Ukraine. He began his trip on July 20 with a visit to the Black Sea port city of Odesa.

Ukrainian National Party Council Chairman Anatoly Sokorinsky told RFE/RL that the Dnipropetrovsk municipal council barred activists from his party from protesting against the patriarch while he was in the city. He called the ruling "antidemocratic and against the law."

Patriarch Kirill is a proponent of unifying the Russian and Ukrainian Orthodox churches. Ukrainian nationalist groups reject that proposal as political and intended to subordinate Ukraine to Russia.

Some 80 percent of Ukraine's population describes itself as Christian Orthodox worshipers, and about one-third of those people look to the Moscow Patriarchate for guidance.