Patriarch Kirill of Moscow
As the Press Service of the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia informed on its website, “on June 8, 2023, with the blessing of His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia, through the mediation of the Russian Orthodox Church, as part of interchurch cooperation, at the request of the Hungarian side, a group of Ukrainian prisoners of war of Transcarpathian origin who had participated in hostilities was transferred to Hungary.
They continued by saying that the chairman of the Moscow Patriarchate’s Department for External Church Relations, Metropolitan Anthony of Volokolamsk, and Archpriest Nicholas Balashov, adviser to the Patriarch, took part in this act, which was motivated by Christian charity.
According to press reports, the Russian Orthodox Church has handed over at least 11 prisoners of war to Hungary. Ukrainian sources are also quoted as saying that the government in Kyiv has not been consulted on the prisoner transfer. The Sovereign Military Order of Malta aid organization is thought to have been one of the intermediaries.
Ukrainian Foreign Ministry spokesman Oleg Nikolenko informed on his Facebook page that the release of Ukrainian POWs is always good news. At the same time, the Foreign Ministry spokesman noted that the Ukrainian government was not informed about the relevant negotiations between the Hungarian and Russian sides, and that the Ukrainian side learned that Russia had handed over eleven Ukrainians of Hungarian origin to Budapest from public statements by the Hungarian Deputy Prime Minister.
“Today, the Chargé d’Affaires of Hungary was invited to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine for a substantive conversation. The Ukrainian side passed on a request to provide detailed information about our citizens and to immediately provide access to them for the Ukrainian consul to get acquainted with their health condition and provide them with consular assistance,” wrote Nikolenko.
Hungarian Deputy Prime Minister Zsolt Semjén told ATV.hu that he would be unable to give any details about the transfer, citing “the interests of the cause and the people”. However, he regards the move as a gesture of the Russian Orthodox Church towards Hungary, and that these people owe their freedom to this. “This is my human and patriotic duty”, he said.
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