MOSCOW (UrduPoint News/Sputnik – October 15, 2022) Moscow calls on Riga not to interfere in relations with the Church as the Latvian government has sent a letter to Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia demanding to declare the Latvian Orthodox Autocephalous Church, the Russian Foreign Ministry’s Goodwill Ambassador Gennady Askaldovich said on Friday.
“We would like to call on the ‘ecclesiastical reformers’ of Latvia not to interfere in inter-church relations, but to deal with the problems which are numerous in their country. The real fact of further interference in the affairs of Latvian Orthodoxy the Church, the attempts to undermine the foundations of Orthodoxy in Latvia have revealed to the whole world the reluctance of the Latvian authorities to respect the inviolable right of man and citizen to freedom of religion”, Askaldovich said.
The ambassador noted that Moscow will not agree with such a policy and will do everything possible to expose it on all international platforms. Askaldovich also called on the faith community to pay attention to the blatant fact of discrimination on religious grounds by Latvia.
“It is unacceptable to use state pressure and dictate in such a sensitive area as inter-church relations,” Askaldovich added.
On September 8, the Latvian Seijm quickly approved amendments to the law, proposed by the country’s president, Egils Levits, which declared the Latvian Orthodox Church autocephalous. Amendments to the Law on the Latvian Orthodox Church, making it completely independent from any other church outside Latvia, mainly that of Russia. The Russian Foreign Ministry said that the approval of such amendments to the Law on the Latvian Orthodox Church would not remain without consequences.
In early September, a source from the Department of External Church Relations of the Moscow Patriarchate told Sputnik that autocephaly could only be granted to the Latvian Orthodox Church by the Russian Orthodox Church and that the interference of the state in these matters was unconstitutional.