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Moscow-Affiliated Churches In Ex-Soviet Republics Fall In Line Over Ukraine Rift

The Russian Orthodox Church in Kazakhstan says it has ended its ties with Constantinople.

ALMATY, Kazakhstan -- Several Orthodox churches in former Soviet republics have followed the steps of the Russian Orthodox Church and cut their ties with the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople.

The Russian Orthodox Church announced its decision on October 15, four days after the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople, who is considered the leader of the worldwide Orthodox community, announced the decision to proceed to recognize Ukraine's request for an autocephalous church.

The Orthodox churches in many former Soviet republics are under the direct jurisdiction of the Russian Orthodox Church in Moscow.

One of the leaders of the Russian Orthodox Church in Kazakhstan, Dmitry Baidek, the archpriest of the Dormition Cathedral Church in Astana, told RFE/RL on October 18 that it had ended ties with the Constantinople Patriarchate over Bartholomew's decision.

Orthodox churches in Belarus and Tajikistan made similar statements on October 16, and the Orthodox Church in Kyrgyzstan took the same step on October 17.

Bartholomew's move has added to tensions between Kyiv and Moscow, already high since Russia's 2014 seizure of Crimea and the war in eastern Ukraine between government forces and Russia-backed separatists.