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Kiev Patriarch Meets Brownback and Voinovich

From Interfax-Religion:

The leader of the self-declared Kiev Patriarchate Filaret Denisenko discussed a possibility of establishing the united Orthodox Church in the Ukraine with US Congress Members.

Friday a Kiev issue of the Kommersant daily reported that Denisenko met with Republican Senators George Voinovich and Sam Brownback, and Gus Bilirakis, the head of the support group to the Greek Orthodox Church in the House of Representatives.

Interfax takes a strong pro-Kremlin line, and it intensely dislikes Patriarch Filaret, whose self-governing (“autocephalous”) church rivals the Russian Orthodox Church in Ukraine. Invariably, Filaret is described as a “schismatic”, and the idea that he is backed by the Americans is something Interfax would be keen to publicise, and perhaps exaggerate.

Brownback’s interest in Ukraine is long-standing. According to a 2004 Hill report:

Sen. Sam Brownback (R-Kan.) has emerged as the next likely chairman of the U.S. commission that monitors human rights in Ukraine…The new chairman will help shape U.S. policy toward Ukraine and neighboring Russia and, by extension, take part in efforts to curb nuclear-weapons proliferation, global terrorism and arms and drug trafficking, sources close to the commission said…The new chairman will help frame a clear and consistent U.S. position regarding Ukraine and other former Soviet republics, a Republican aide said…

Filaret’s trip to Washington follows in the footsteps of Serbian Bishop Artemije Radosavljevic, who has successfully lobbied Brownback and Voinovich to oppose an independent Kosovo (along with Rick Santorum, as I blogged here).