Russian President Vladimir Putin made scathing remarks concerning the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople during his annual press conference in Moscow on Thursday.
According to the Ukrainian website KyivPost, Putin harshly criticized Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I, saying that his attitude toward the church schism in Ukraine is connected to his desire to subdue the Ukrainian church, and then start profiting from it.
In an obvious effort to downgrade the importance of the Patriarchate and its Ecumenical role, Putin deprecatingly referred to it as ”the Turkish Patriarchate.”
He declared that the recent decision of Constantinople to grant Ecclesiastical Autocephaly (independence) to the Church of Ukraine derived from its motive to subdue the territory which once belonged to the Patriarchate of Moscow.
The row between the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople and the Patriarchate of Moscow began this year when the Ukrainian Church applied for independence, following years of political and military tensions between Ukraine and Russia.
Just this past weekend in Kiev, a new leader was elected as head of the new Ukrainian Orthodox Church, 39-year-old Metropolitan Epiphanius. He was elected by a synod of more than 200 bishops, priests and other Ukrainian officials.