Archbishop Chrysostomos said the presence of a self-proclaimed Russian Orthodox Church in the north is unacceptable but nothing can be done to remove it as it lies in occupied territory.
Reports suggested a Russian clergyman by the name Alexei Ivanov was operating as the head of a parish in Kyrenia for about a year.
The Russian embassy distanced itself from the individual and the parish, saying Ivanov had no ties to Russian Orthodox Church and never had any.
Instead he “calls himself a clergyman of the ‘Russian Orthodox Church Abroad’,” a statement from the embassy said.
Speaking on Sigma television, the archbishop said the Church met with the Russian ambassador a month or so ago but no action could be taken as the parish does not belong to the official Russian Orthodox Church but also lies in occupied territory.
“They are scammers,” the Archbishop stipulated. “They are in occupied areas; we cannot do anything about it.”
However, he said Kyrenia is not too far from government-controlled areas and there are Russian speaking priests in the government-controlled areas to help Russian speakers living in the area.
Paphos Bishop Georgios, speaking to daily Politis, said legal measures were also on the table and he would propose the course of action during a meeting with the Holy Synod set to take place on September 5.
He maintained that priests who were operating churches in the occupied territories do not belong to the Russian Orthodox Church and are therefore illegal.
The bishop added that during a visit to Russia with the archbishop just over two years ago, the patriarch had asked for permission to send over ordained priests for the Russian community in the north as well as tourists because they were aware of schismatic priests that were apparently taking advantage of Russians.
The archbishop had asked for the request in writing to be examined by the Holy Synod.
“It appears the request was never sent, hence why we have not taken any decision on the matter,” the bishop was quoted as saying.