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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Church Leader Slams Kiev After Funeral

KIEV -- A religious leader has accused the government of trying to crush Ukraine's independent Orthodox Church and blamed the authorities for violence during its patriarch's funeral.


Metropolitan Filaret, flanked by nationalist members of parliament, denounced Ukraine's leadership after police twice used tear gas and truncheons on mourners and priests demanding that Patriarch Volodymyr be buried in an ancient cathedral Wednesday.


"This was an attack on Ukrainian statehood. The authorities do not want Ukraine to have its own church," he said. "The government says force breeds force. But we were no force, we were a funeral procession."


Government figures said 12 mourners and 30 policemen were injured in the fracas, the most violent clashes in Kiev since Ukraine won independence from Soviet rule in 1991.


Volodymyr's body remained in a makeshift grave dug in the pavement.