Abducted Roman Catholic priest released by militants


Father Viktor Wąsowicz, head of the Roman Catholic Church in Horlivka was thankfully released on Saturday after being held hostage by Kremlin-backed militants for two weeks.  He was seized at a checkpoint coming into Horlivka on July 15 on his way to a church service he was planning to administer.  He managed to make a call saying that he had been abducted before all contact with him was lost.  He was held in the premises of the Horlivka SBU [Security Service] that militants from the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic have seized.

The Polish Foreign Minister, Radosław Sikorski thanked members of the clergy and consuls who were presumably acting in obtaining Father Viktor’s release.  He was taken by the militants to the border with the Kharkiv oblast.  The Bishop of Kharkiv and Zaporizhya, Marian Buczek told Polish Radio that priests from the Moscow Patriarchate had helped to get him freed.  The Bishop explained that the Polish Foreign Ministry could not do much since 39-year-old Father Viktor is not a Polish national, having been born into a Polish family in the Zhytomir oblast.

One priest (at least) remains in captivity.  Father Yury Ivanov, from the Orthodox Church of the Kyiv Patriarchate was abducted on July 8.    According to Said Ismagilov, Mufti of the Spiritual Directorate of Muslims of Ukraine [UMMA], Kremlin-backed militants had previously turned up at Father Yury’s home and demanded that he ask Archbishop Serhiy of the Donetsk UOC KP to urgently come to his home,   obviously so that the militants could abduct him.

There are strong grounds for concern.  Ukrainian Greek Catholic priest, Father Tikhon was released 10 days after being abducted on July 3.  According to Pastor Sergei Kosyak who had been active in seeking his release, Father Tikhon had the appearance when released of a man who had looked death in the eye a number of times. 

The terrorists have also murdered four members of an evangelical church in Slovyansk – two sons – Ruvim and Albert - of Pastor Alexander Pavenko from the Slovyansk evangelical Church of the Transformation, as well as deacons of the church Viktor Brodarsky, and Volodymyr Velychko.

It was also reported that Anton Skyba, a Donetsk journalist working as stringer for CNN was released on July 26.  As reported, Skyba was seized inside the Hotel Donbas Palace on July 22 while he was with a CNN film crew. Matsuka explains that he was helping the CNN team gather material about what is happening in the Donetsk oblast.

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