"Broken fetters": Crimean Tatar leader comments on significance of church autocephaly
The leader of the Crimean Tatar people, MP Mustafa Dzhemilev believes that granting of autocephaly to the local Orthodox Church of Ukraine by the Ecumenical Patriarchate is "an act that strengthens Ukraine's independence."
Speaking with RFE/RL's Krym.Realii project, Dzhemilev said the event was a landmark not only for Orthodox Christians, but for the entire people of Ukraine.
“Fetters are broken that were imposed on Ukraine by the Russian Empire more than 400 years ago. Centuries will pass, but this day and this event will be in textbooks. This is a huge victory and the fruit of the efforts of so many people,” he stressed.
According to Dzhemilev, efforts to obtain independence for the Ukrainian church had been carried out from the first days of the country's independence, but only after the start of the war and the occupation of part of the Ukrainian territories by Russia did the need for autocephaly finally become obvious.
“We touched on the issue in our conversations with Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew as far back as the 1990s, but at that time, Constantinople had not yet decided to spoil relations with Moscow. At the same time, Russia fiercely resisted the granting of autocephaly, resorting to bribery attempts and other tricks,” said the Crimean Tatar leader.