In a statement published today, the Russian Orthodox Church announced that, at the request of Budapest,
several Transcarpathian soldiers who were held as prisoners of war in Russia have been transferred to Hungary.
As stated in the released document:
‘With the blessing of His Holiness Kirill, the Patriarch of Moscow and all Rus’, and through the mediation of the Russian Orthodox Church, ethnic Hungarian prisoners of war from Transcarpathia were relocated to Hungary within the framework of interfaith cooperation.’
The statement emphasised that the mission was carried out in the spirit of Christian charity.
‘This is a gesture from the Russian Orthodox Church towards Hungary,’ Deputy Prime Minister Zsolt Semjén said in an interview with Atv.hu. Mr Semjén also mentioned that he had personally coordinated the transportation of the 11 prisoners of war from Transcarpathia to Hungary, fulfilling a humanitarian and patriotic duty.
Regarding the news, the Ukrainian news portal Fokus, citing anonymous sources, states that the Russian Orthodox Church is attempting to restore its legitimacy after supporting the military invasion of the Russian Federation, which led to international sanctions being imposed. The Fokus article adds that
the Ukrainian authorities had not been consulted about the transfer of the POWs.
According to the media outlet, the Sovereign Order of Malta was one of the intermediaries involved in the operation. They further mention that all the soldiers in question are Ukrainian citizens, making it theoretically impossible to transfer them to a third country without the consent and involvement of Kyiv.