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Donbas Buddhist monks settle in Ukraine’s Carpathian Mountains after fleeing war

Donbas Buddhist monks settle in Ukraine’s Carpathian Mountains after fleeing war
Edited by: Yuri Zoria
Krivopillya is a quiet little village located deep in Ukraine’s Carpathian mountains, in the West-Ukrainian Ivano-Frankivsk Oblast. The local population of Orthodox Christians is accustomed to a rather recluse lifestyle. But the recent arrival of Buddhists monks is bound to change that. The monks fled the war in eastern Ukraine and bought a house in the village.

Serhey Filonenko, Buddhist monk:

“Everything that happened is connected with the Donbas and with war. Everything has started from there. I am from Donetsk, for example.”

Yet their arrival has not been welcomed by all locals. Buddhist Vasyl Nastyuk believes that the village residents need time to get used to their new neighbors.

Vasyl Nastyuk, Buddhist monk:

“Locals do not understand us because they think very superficially about things like faith. They do not perceive us well because they think it is something totally different.”

Meanwhile, local resident Ivan Bondarik is happy to see new faces arrive in the village. He also says many people have left the village for a better life elsewhere.

Ivan Bondaryk, Kryvopillia local resident:

“They have bought the house. I’m happy they have come here. Not many residents remain in the village, earlier there were 12 houses, now only four.”

The group of Buddhists is hoping that, in time, locals may begin to accept their presence in these quiet snowy mountains.

Before 2014, the Eastern-Ukrainian region of the Donbas was the most Buddhist in Orthodox-Christian Ukraine by the number of local Buddhist communities and organizations, which carried out their activities since the 1990s. Before the war, 20 of the 59 Buddhist organizations officially operating in Ukraine were located in the Donbas, in Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts.

After the beginning of the Anti-Terrorist Operation in 2014, the Donetsk Buddhist Sheychen-ling monastery, located in the zone of active hostilities, suspended its work.

Another major Buddhist center in the Donbas region was the site of the Path of the Nipponzan Myohoji Order in Pankivka village near Luhansk. As war had erupted, Pankivka was one of the “hottest” spots for a long time, most of its population, including the Buddhist community, fled war. Monks from Pankivka moved to the Central-Ukrainian oblast of Cherkasy.

Some of the Buddhist monks from both Donbas provinces reached the Carpathian Mountains and founded their community there.Editor’s Note

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Edited by: Yuri Zoria
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