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The Zhytomyr Diocese of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine (OCU) says Metropolitan Vissarion of Ovruch and Korosten, Hierarch of the Russian Church in Ukraine, is putting pressure on priests who joined the newly created OCU since the unification council and the creation of the local OCU, independent from Russia's Orthodox Church.

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In particular, Vissarion is sending SMS messages to the clergy with threats and calls for repentance.

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"Metropolitan Vissarion is also warning that Russian priests and people who 'can help repent' will arrive in the [religious] communities that have left his diocese. The Ovruch diocese [in Zhytomyr region] of the Russian Church also campaigns in the parishes, distributing leaflets of provocative content…, and calling for repentance of all who have joined the Orthodox Church of Ukraine," the Zhytomyr Diocese of the OCU said on its website on February 10.

It is noted that such actions have already affected the religious communities in the villages of Hranitne, Maklayivka, and Fedorivka in Zhytomyr region's Malyn district, as well as other areas of the region.

"The Zhytomyr Diocese of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine states that all transitions of parishes and clergymen [of the former Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate (UOC-MP) to the new church] are taking place in line with the current legislation of Ukraine and the canons of the Orthodox Church. Therefore, any intimidation and threats are unacceptable as they contradict the foundations of the Christian faith," the diocese added.