The head of Ukraine’s Orthodox Church under the Moscow patriarchate died on Saturday, the patriarchate said on its website on Saturday.
The Moscow patriarchate has echoed Russian President Vladimir Putin’s rhetoric on the Ukraine crisis, a move that may alienate the church in Ukraine, analysts have said.
“On July 5, 2014, the primate of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, his beatitude Metropolitan of Kyiv Volodymyr, went to the Lord,” a statement on the website said.
Putin, who has chartered a more socially conservative course in his third term as president, has strengthened ties with the Russian Orthodox Church and boosted its profile across Russia.
The Ukrainian Orthodox Church currently under the Moscow Patriarch Kirill is Ukraine’s largest religious body and does not recognize the smaller Ukrainian Orthodox Church, under the Kyiv patriarch, which established itself in a schism after the fall of the Soviet Union.
Volodymyr, 78, ascended to the leadership of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church following the schism, during which its previous head was defrocked.
Volodymyr suffered from internal bleeding and had been treated at a clinic in Kyiv, Interfax reported.