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posted: 7/5/2014 11:28 AM

Head of Ukraine's Orthodox Church dies at 78

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  • In this file photo taken on Jan. 5, the head of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church under the Moscow Patriarchate, Vladimir leads services during the Christmas Eve mass in the Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra church in Kiev, Ukraine. The head of Ukraine's Orthodox Church under the Moscow patriarchate died on Saturday, July 5, the patriarchate announced on its website. Vladimir, 78, ascended to the leadership of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church following the schism, during which its previous head was defrocked. Vladimir suffered from internal bleeding and had been treated at a clinic in Kiev, Interfax reported.

      In this file photo taken on Jan. 5, the head of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church under the Moscow Patriarchate, Vladimir leads services during the Christmas Eve mass in the Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra church in Kiev, Ukraine. The head of Ukraine's Orthodox Church under the Moscow patriarchate died on Saturday, July 5, the patriarchate announced on its website. Vladimir, 78, ascended to the leadership of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church following the schism, during which its previous head was defrocked. Vladimir suffered from internal bleeding and had been treated at a clinic in Kiev, Interfax reported.
    Associated Press

 
Associated Press

KIEV, Ukraine -- The head of Ukraine's Orthodox Church has died at 78 after leading it for more than two decades.

The church announced online that Metropolitan Volodymyr, who has been credited with stabilizing the church during the tumultuous post-Soviet period, died Saturday "after a long illness."

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In his more than 20 years as head of the country's largest church, Volodymyr weathered the breakaway of two groups that declared themselves independent of the Moscow Patriarchate that incorporates the Ukrainian church. Observers say he succeeded in preventing even more splits.

Recently, Volodymyr often reflected pro-Russian opinions in Ukraine, where fighting between the Kiev government and a separatist insurgency in the east of the country has claimed more than 400 lives.

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