VILNIUS – Lithuania has banned entry to Patriarch Kirill of Moscow, head of the Russian Orthodox Church, over his support for Russia's continued invasion of Ukraine, the Interior Ministry confirmed to BNS on Wednesday.
Kirill was blacklisted on June 23, but no public announcement was made until now.
The decision was taken at the Finance Ministry's proposal.
According to the Interior Ministry, the patriarch was placed on the blacklist because he deliberately denies Ukraine's territorial integrity and sovereignty, and justifies and supports Russia's aggressive actions which grossly violate the norms and principles of international law.
"Patriarch Kirill, a close associate of (Russian President) Vladimir Putin, is one of the most active supporters of the war against Ukraine, and has repeatedly spoken publicly in favor of Russia's aggression," the ministry said in its comment.
"Patriarch Kirill openly refers to the Ukrainian people in the Russian propaganda media as 'participants of the Nazi regime' who should be deported or destroyed," it said. "On July 27, 2022, Patriarch Kirill blessed the Russian troops involved in the war against Ukraine and gave canonical justification for Russia's war," it said.
The patriarch of Moscow is banned from visiting Lithuania until June 23, 2027.
Lithuania proposed EU-level sanctions against Kirill last spring, but he was removed from the list at Hungary's initiative when the sixth package of sanctions against Russia was adopted in June.
Bishop Ambrose of Trakai said after his recent trip to Moscow to meet with the patriarch that he had received support for greater autonomy from the Patriarchate sought by the Lithuanian Orthodox Church.
Ambrose also said he had conveyed to Kirill that the heads of the Lithuanian Orthodox Church condemn "Russia's actions, the war".