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Ukraine parish turns into battlefield amid conflict with Russia

Russian Orthodox priests bless believers after a religious service near the church in the village of Ptycha, in the Rivne region west of Ukraine's capital Kiev on December 23, 2015The quiet village of Ptycha has become an unlikely battleground for the Orthodox faithful in western Ukraine, where the divide between pro- and anti-Moscow factions plays out far from the eastern front of the war-torn country. Armed with sticks, spades and Molotov cocktails, the Orthodox faithful in the Ukrainian-speaking village this month moved against each other, leaving at least one cleric with a bloodied head, according to video footage that went viral across Ukraine. After Ukraine gained independence in 1991 a conflict erupted between the Ukrainian Orthodox Church backed by Moscow and a breakaway Kiev-based Ukrainian Orthodox Church.

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