26 July 2008, 19:22
Kiev, July 26, Interfax - The head of the Russian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Alexy II arrived in Kiev on Saturday to join in celebrations of the 1020th anniversary of the introduction of Christianity in Russia.
Alexy II was welcomed at Borispol airport by Metropolitan Vladimir, who heads the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, and members of the Ukrainian opposition Party of Regions.
The Patriarch plans to visit the Kiev Monastery in the Caves, after which he will receive a diploma of doctor honoris casa at a ceremony at the Kiev Theological Academy.
The last time Alexy II visited Ukraine was in September 1997, when he spent six days in that country. The Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, Bartholomew, was visiting Ukraine simultaneously. Both patriarchs deplored the split in the Ukrainian Orthodox community.
Before that, Alexy II was in Ukraine in October 1990, when the leadership of the Russian Orthodox Church granted autonomy to its Ukrainian branch. What was until then called the Ukrainian Exarchate of the Russian Orthodox Church received the name of Ukrainian Orthodox Church.
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