Priests Abducted

Members of Vienna's Ukrainian community protest outside St. Stephen's Cathedral. (CNS photo/Leonhard Foeger, Reuters)

In a serious escalation of tension in Crimea, three Ukrainian Greek Catholic priests have been seized and interrogated by pro-Russian forces. The Rev. Mykola Kvych, a pastor and Ukrainian military chaplain, was taken on March 15 after celebrating the liturgy. He was released later that day after hours of questioning. The following day two other Greek Catholic priests were also picked up for questioning before being released. Ukrainian Greek Catholic priests have received oral and written threats, warning them to leave Crimea. Father Kvych told the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church’s information department that he was held for eight hours by representatives of the pro-Russian Crimean self-defense force and Russian intelligence officers. According to Father Kvych, they accused him of “provocations” and of supplying the Ukrainian navy with weapons. Father Kvych told his interrogators that he helped organize the delivery of food to a blockaded naval base and that he gave two bulletproof vests to journalists. The day following his release, after several unknown individuals continually rang the doorbell of his apartment and then tried to break in, Father Kvych, with the assistance of his parishioners, was able to leave Crimea.

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