- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 1, 2022

Objections by Hungary to European Union sanctions against Patriarch Kirill, leader of the Russian Orthodox Church, are holding up enactment of stricter measures against Russian oil imports.

According to Russia’s Tass news agency and other sources, Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orban voiced his disapproval in a live radio broadcast.

“We will not allow the inclusion of church leaders in the sanctions list,” the agency quoted Mr. Orban as saying, adding that he regarded religious freedom as a “sacred issue.”

The report said that Hungary’s Orthodox clerics had requested him to fight the sanctions on Kirill.

Unlike such Orthodoxy-dominant neighbors as Romania and Serbia, Hungary is historically Catholic and its Orthodox population is very small.

The Hungarian leader had also fought for — and won — an exemption on the proposed EU oil import ban for his country, which is a major client of Russian firms.

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Kirill has been widely criticized in Orthodox Christian circles for his continuing support of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s months-long war against Ukraine.

He has continued to support the campaign, however, praying for a Russian victory and offering a blessing to Russian weapons.

• Mark A. Kellner can be reached at mkellner@washingtontimes.com.

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