The political activists who chopped down a wooden Orthodox Christian cross in Kiev committed an act of vandalism that deserves a severe response from law enforcement authorities, Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych said on Wednesday.
Activists from the Ukrainian feminist group Femen cut down the wooden crucifix with a chainsaw in mid-August allegedly in support of jailed members of the Russian punk band Pussy Riot. The crucifix was erected in 2004 in memory of the victims of political repression.
“It is an alarming sign…I demand that the law enforcement bodies respond in a most severe manner to this barbarian act,” Yanukovych said at a meeting with church leaders in Kiev.
Following the Femen protest action, copycat acts of vandalism involving cross-cutting spread across Russia, sparking outrage among Orthodox Church officials and believers.
A senior Moscow priest, Dmitry Smirnov, earlier said the cross attacks amounted to a declaration of war against the Orthodox Church.