Ukrainian church in Crimea attacked by armed men: Kiev patriarchate

KIEV (AFP) - Armed men on Sunday attacked a Ukrainian Orthodox church in Crimea, beating up a priest and church-goers including a pregnant woman, the Kiev patriarchate said.

Calling the attack "a planned action", the patriarchate said police who arrived at the scene three hours after the attack "took the side of the assailants, explaining that the patriarchate of Kiev was carrying out anti-Russian activities in Crimea".

The Orthodox Church is the largest denomination in Ukraine, but is split between those tied to Moscow and those linked to a new patriarchate set up in Kiev in 1992 following the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Following Moscow's annexation of Crimea in March, Kiev Patriarch Filaret - labelled Russia an "enemy" whose attack on Ukraine was doomed to fail.

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