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Russian troops kill Ukrainian priest who refused to convert to Moscow patriarchate

Renowned for his pro-Ukrainian stance, Stepan Podolchak, a Ukrainian priest, firmly refused the demands of the Russian occupation administration to convert to the Moscow Patriarchate.
Stepan Podolchak. Credit: social media
Russian troops kill Ukrainian priest who refused to convert to Moscow patriarchate

In the small town of Kalanchak in the occupied territory of Kherson Oblast, Russian military forces have reportedly tortured and killed local priest Stepan Podolchak, Ukraine’s Center for Journalistic Investigations reported on 16 February.

Svitlana Fomina, head of the Kalanchak administration, said that on 13 February, Russian occupying troops broke into the home of 59-year-old Stepan Podolchak, the rector of the local Orthodox Church of Ukraine, and took him to an unknown location. On 15 February, his wife was called and “invited” to identify her deceased husband’s body.

Fomina expressed her grief, stating, “The Russians tortured him to death. He was the brightest person I have been lucky enough to meet in my life. He was like an angel who descended to earth – faithful to God, pure in soul, honest, and just. Stepan Podolchak came to Kalanchak from Lviv Oblast, and together with the parishioners, he built a church here for more than ten years. He was always pro-Ukrainian, conducted all services in Ukrainian, and prayed for Ukraine, even during the occupation. Perhaps that’s why the Russians took away the most precious thing a person has – life.”

Before the war, Stepan Podolchak consistently conducted services in Ukrainian in the town of Kalanchak. Even after the occupation, he persisted in leading services in his native language and maintained his patriotism for Ukraine. The priest was summoned for discussions by the FSB on multiple occasions, with demands to convert to the Moscow Patriarchate, but he steadfastly refused.

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