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    MOSCOW PATRIARCHY INCREASES PRESENCE IN UKRAINE

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    MOSCOW, February 2, 2004. /RIA Novosti correspondent Olga Lipich/ - Last year the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchy opened 360 new parishes in Ukraine. The total number of cathedrals of the country's largest religion reached 10,500, the Church's press service reported to RIA Novosti on Monday, quoting the statement of Vladimir Bondarenko, chairman of the Ukrainian State Religion Committee.

    "The Ukrainian Orthodox Church still holds the dominating position on Ukraine's religious map," Bondarenko said.

    According to the Ukrainian committee, the number of parishes increased significantly in the Kiev, Cherkassk and Poltava regions and in the autonomous republic of Crimea, where Orthodoxy suffered the largest damage during the Soviet era.

    Bondarenko believes that the most topical problems of the country's religious life are the split in the Orthodoxy, tense relations between traditional and new religions and the issue of church property restitution, the press service pointed out.

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