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World >

Pro-Russia rebels target Christians in Ukraine

by Gavin Drake

Posted: 29 Aug 2014 @ 12:24


Click to enlarge

Patrol: a pro-Russian rebel walks through a passage at a market damaged by shelling, in Donetsk, on Tuesday 

Credit: AP

Patrol: a pro-Russian rebel walks through a passage at a market damaged by shelling, in Donetsk, on Tuesday 

CHURCHES in eastern Ukraine held a joint service this week to mourn the deaths of four Christians who were kidnapped in June.

The Senior Bishop of the All-Ukrainian Union of Evangelical Christian Churches, the Rt Revd Mikhajlo Panochko, said that pro-Russian militia stormed the Church of the Transfiguration after the Pentecost service in June, capturing two deacons, Volodymyr Velichko and Victor Bradarskoho, as well as Reuben and Albert Pavenko - two adult children of the church's pastor, the Revd Alexander Pavenko. The militia had attempted to capture him, but he managed to escape with his younger children.

Last week, after the escape of another captured man, the regional deputy prosecutor, Sergey Mironenko, it was revealed that the four men had been charged with "crimes against the Donetsk People's Republic" - supporting the Ukrainian army - and had been tortured and killed the day after they were captured.

"None of us, six months ago, could ever think that the two provinces of eastern Ukraine would burn with the terrible flames of war, which consumes thousands of people, destroying towns and villages, bringing pain and suffering of so many hearts," Bishop Panochko told the Religious Information Service of the Ukraine.

"The leadership of the Union of Churches of Evangelical Christians of Ukraine extends its deep condolences to the families of the innocently killed brothers, and appeals to all the Christians to prayerfully support their family in this extremely difficult time," he said.

The Evangelical Churches in eastern Ukraine had "found themselves in the middle of a conflict", he said. Besides the attacks from pro-Russian separatists, he said, "Cuban Cossacks" had "brutally destroyed churches, claiming that they do it in a fight for the Orthodox faith".

The Bishop called for prayer "in the fight against the darkness of this world, praying for peace for Ukraine and taming the wicked enemy".

The President of Ukraine, Petro Poroshenko, this week called a snap parliamentary election for 26 October. After conversations on Tuesday with the President of Russia, Vladimir Putin, in the Belarus capital, Minsk, President Poroshenko announced a "roadmap for peace".

The crisis in Ukraine is set to dominate next week's NATO summit meeting at the Celtic Manor Resort, near Newport, in south Wales. Unusually, the agenda of the biennial meeting had been "shaped" by the events over the summer, a NATO source said. The situation in Ukraine, the rise of the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq, and the actions of Boko Haram in Nigeria were all causing concern for NATO leaders, the source said.

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