The United Kingdom on Thursday sanctioned Patriarch Kirill, head of the Russian Orthodox Church, as part of a fresh salvo of measures in response to the invasion of Ukraine, a reprisal described as “absurd” by the Russian Church.
• Read also: Ukraine: Macron, Scholz and Draghi on an unprecedented visit to Kyiv, before a crucial EU decision
• Read also: [LIVE] 113th day of war in Ukraine: here are all the latest developments
• Read also: Slovakia gives helicopters and Grad rockets to Ukraine
The 75-year-old religious leader, whom the European Union recently waived from blacklisting, "is being sanctioned for his support of Putin's war," the foreign ministry said in a statement.
"Attempts to intimidate the Patriarch of the Russian Church or to force him to abandon his views are absurd, senseless, hopeless," reacted in a press release Vladimir Legoida, the spokesman of the Russian Orthodox Church.
The measures announced by London, which provide for a ban on entering British territory and the freezing of assets in the United Kingdom, also target Maria Lvova-Belova, mediator for children's rights at the Kremlin, because of "the adoption and forced transfer of Ukrainian children”.
Leaders of the transport sector and soldiers accused of having "killed, raped and tortured civilians" in Boutcha, near Kyiv, are also targeted.
"We are targeting the accomplices and perpetrators of Putin's war who are inflicting untold suffering on Ukraine, including the forced transfer and adoption of children," Foreign Minister Liz Truss said in a statement.
Patriarch Kirill, leader of the Russian Orthodox since 2009, has put his Church at the service of Russian President Vladimir Putin, calling it a "miracle", sharing his ambition for a conservative, dominating Russia and supporting the offensive in Ukraine.
The European Commission had proposed to sanction it but the EU gave up on it due to the opposition of Hungary.