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Russians ‘closing Protestant churches’ in Ukraine

14 October 2022

Alamy

Black smoke rises over Kyiv as a result of Russian missile attacks this week

Black smoke rises over Kyiv as a result of Russian missile attacks this week

PROTESTANT churches in occupied areas of Ukraine have reportedly been closed by pro-Russian forces.

Release International, which campaigns against the persecution of Christians, and a partner organisation, Voice of the Martyrs Korea, report that three Evangelical Protestant churches in Melitopol have been shut down in the past month, together with a Baptist church in Mariupol in the south-east of the country.

In the village of Chkalovo, on the coast of the Azov Sea, witnesses report that Russian soldiers who entered a Baptist church during an evening service and ordered it to be closed said: “We have only one faith: Orthodoxy.”

Russian missile strikes on Kyiv and other cities in the unoccupied parts of the country on Monday morning left at least 14 dead and almost 100 wounded, The Times reports. The strikes were in apparent retaliation for a blast that damaged a bridge in Russian-held Crimea last week.

An international homelessness charity, Depaul International, has warned that people in Ukraine face additional peril from the elements this winter. It is launching an urgent appeal for funds towards heat-proofing homes and providing warm clothing, fuel, and temporary shelter, where required.

Winter temperatures in Ukraine are, on average, below freezing and can fall as low as –20°C.

The Russian bombardment of residential areas of Ukraine has left many buildings without heating. The destruction of windows by blast means that insulation is poor.

Fr Vitaliy Novak, who chairs Depaul Ukraine’s trustees, said last week that, while “everyone here is worried about winter,” the weather wasn’t the only concern, but also Ukraine’s continued reliance on Russian energy. “Russia could hit the electricity supply at any time, and we will be paralysed. Nobody trusts how much energy we will receive from Russia as we were still dependent on them for gas and oil,” he said.

It is estimated that thousands of homeless people in Ukraine die each year from the cold. With millions of people internally displaced by the war, the problem is expected to be even worse this winter.

“Last year, our volunteers in Odesa found homeless people who had frozen to death, and Odesa is one of Ukraine’s warmer cities,” Fr Novak said. “The situation will be even worse in Kyiv in the north, and Kharkiv in the north-east. Even if people don’t freeze to death, there are a lot of amputations of fingers, toes, and limbs, as after only two or three hours you can lose your feet; so this is a very dangerous situation.”

The group CEO of Depaul International, Matthew Carter, said “What we are seeing in Ukraine is completely shocking, and our team have been astonishing in helping people in the hardest-hit areas. In the years ahead, we anticipate widespread homelessness across Ukraine, with particularly vulnerable people, such as the elderly and disabled, the worst hit.”

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