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UK sanctions head of Russian Orthodox Church

The U.K. has targeted Patriarch Kirill, the leader of the Russian Orthodox Church, as well as other allies of Vladimir Putin, in its latest round of sanctions, the government announced Thursday.

Kirill has been sanctioned “for his prominent support of Russian military aggression in Ukraine.” In May, Pope Francis said he had warned the Russian not to “turn himself into Putin’s altar boy.”

The European Commission targeted Kirill with sanctions in May — highlighting a series of pro-war sermons and remarks he had made since Russia’s invasion in February, including blessing Russian soldiers fighting in Ukraine.

Thursday’s U.K. sanctions also include Russian Children’s Rights Commissioner Maria Lvova-Belova; Sergey Savostyanov, deputy of the Moscow city Duma; and Alexey Isaykin, president and board member of the Volga-Dnepr transport group.

“Today we are targeting the enablers and perpetrators of Putin’s war who have brought untold suffering to Ukraine,” Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said in a statement.

Organizations responsible for supplying aircraft parts to the armed forces of Myanmar are also hit by the new wave of sanctions, to “limit Myanmar’s military Junta, who are heavily reliant on Russian air assets, and cut Putin off from profiting from sales that fund his war machine,” according to the U.K. government.

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