Russian Orthodox Church structures were involved in preparation for Russian invasion of Ukraine

Metropolitan Epiphanius of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine (OCU) has said that the structures of the Russian Orthodox Church were involved in the preparation for and implementation of Russian aggression against Ukraine.

The Moscow Patriarchate, headed by Kirill Gundyaev [Patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church - ed.], is in slavish obedience to the Kremlin's tyranny and serves as its tool. The structures of the Russian Orthodox Church, and this is not only seen by us but also recognised by independent international experts, were systematically involved in the preparation for and implementation of aggression against Ukraine."

According to Epiphanius, therefore, an integral part of the Ukrainian resistance is the complete severance of all ties of subordination with the Moscow Patriarchate, which still remain with some Orthodox believers in Ukraine.

"Because in words, the religious association that calls itself the UOC [Ukrainian Orthodox Church - ed.] allegedly distances itself from its patriarch and the Russian Church, but in reality, it remains subordinate to them," the Metropolitan notes.

He believes that "only a legislative prohibition for any religious organisations in Ukraine to be subordinate to Russian religious centres can remedy this situation".

Because the Kremlin has turned these centres into its centres of influence, from which Orthodox, Muslim, Protestant and other religious leaders in the Russian Federation assist the aggressor and justify its crimes.

"Ukraine has the right to defend itself against Russian hybrid aggression in the spiritual sphere in the same way it defends itself on the battlefield," Epiphanius said.

Russian forces carry out a massive attack on Zaporizhzhia Oblast overnight

The Russians launched a massive attack on Zaporizhzhia Oblast on the night of 15-16 April.

Yurii Malashko, Head of Zaporizhzhia Oblast Military Administration, reported that a local church in Komyshuvakha has been damaged, and no service was held there. Nearby buildings have also been damaged.

Russian forces hit the green zone in Zaporizhzhia. The aftermath of the shock wave damage is currently being established.

The head of the Oblast Military Administration added that specialists had started their work immediately.

Four more people sought under rubble in Sloviansk

As of the morning of 16 April, four people may still be trapped under the rubble in Sloviansk, which Russia attacked on 14 April. Emergency and rescue operations are underway at the site of a five-story building destroyed by shelling. According to the National Police, four more people may be trapped under the rubble. Emergency workers have said that two people have been rescued, and the bodies of six people have been retrieved from the rubble of the destroyed five-story building.

In total, 11 people have been killed and 22 injured due to the massive Russian attack.