Thousands people belonging to Ukraine's Orthodox Church of Moscow Patriarchy led a cross procession through Kiev on 27 July to celebrate the Day of the Baptism of Kievan Rus'. The procession marked the 1028th anniversary of the Christianisation of Ukraine- known as Kievan Rus' at the time, and was accepted by Saint Volodymyr (Vladimir I) in the 10th century.

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Ukraine's Orthodox Church of Moscow Patriarchy's clerics and church followers take part in a procession of the cross marking the Day of the Baptism of Kievan Rus'Sergei Supinsky/ AFP
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A woman of Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Kiev Patriarchate takes part in a procession marking the Christianisation of the countryGleb Garanich/ Reuters
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Priests of Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Kiev Patriarchate take part in a procession marking the Christianisation of the countryGleb Garanich/ Reuters

However, throughout the past week, activists and protesters tried to intervene with the religious march by holding Ukrainian flags and trying to stop the entire procession, which began at the beginning of July. Supporters of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Kiev believe the procession is organised by pro-Russian powers to destabilise the political situation in in the country. Ukrainian nationalists have been blocking the designated procession route, pelting the worshippers with eggs and denouncing them as 'agents of Moscow'. Reports were also made that grenades had been planted, which brought the procession to a halt and prevented the worshippers from entering Kiev.

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Nuns of Ukraine's Orthodox Church of Moscow Patriarchy take part in a procession of the cross marking the Day of the Baptism of Kievan Rus'Vasily Maximov/ AFP
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Faithfuls of Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate take part in a procession marking the Christianisation of the countryGleb Garanich/ Reuters
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Activists are seen through an Ukrainian flag during a protest against Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Moscow Patriarchy's believers cross processionSergei Supinsky/ AFP
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Ukraine's Orthodox Church of Moscow Patriarchy followers lift a cross during a procession of the cross, marking the Day of the Baptism of Kievan Rus'Vasily Maximov/ AFP
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Members of the Ukrainian national guard block pro-Ukrainian activists, as they protest against a procession organised by the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow PatriarchateValentyn Ogirenko/ Reuters
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A woman kneels in front of a placard of religious icons as Ukraine's Orthodox Church of Moscow Patriarchy clerics and followers take part in a procession of the cross, marking the Day of the Baptism of Kievan Rus'Sergei Supinsky/ AFP

Orthodox Christians in Ukraine are divided between one church that comes under the Moscow Patriarchate and a splinter church under a Ukrainian leader, that neither Moscow nor other Orthodox churches recognise. President Petro Poroshenko has called on an Orthodox Christian leader to recognise the independence of his country's splinter church.

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Faithfuls of Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate take part in a procession marking the Christianisation of the country, which was known as Kievan Rus'Gleb Garanich/ Reuters
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Orthodox nuns cross themselves as they take part in a procession marking the Christianisation of the countryValentyn Ogirenko/ Reuters
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Nuns of Ukraine's Orthodox Church of Moscow Patriarchy take part in a procession of the cross marking the Day of the Baptism of Kievan Rus'Vasily Maximov/ AFP
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Nuns of the Ukraine's Orthodox Church of Moscow Patriarchy's church take part in a procession of the cross marking the Day of the Baptism of Kievan Rus'Sergei Supinsky/ AFP
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Priests of Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Kiev Patriarchate take part in a procession marking the Christianisation of the countryGleb Garanich/ Reuters
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Faithfuls of Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate take part in a procession which marks the Christianisation of the countryGleb Garanich/ Reuters
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An Orthodox priest makes the sign of the cross as he takes part in a procession marking the Christianisation of the countryValentyn Ogirenko/ Reuters
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Ukrainian policemen hold each others as they face demonstrators holding Ukrainian flags as they protest against a cross procession of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of MoscowSergei Supinsky/ AFP
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A believer of Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Moscow Patriarchy gestures during a cross procession from Kiev to the small city of BoryspilSergei Supinsky/ AFP

Vladimir Legoyda, the Moscow Patriarchate's spokesman, told the Associated Press that at least 30,000 pilgrims had gathered for a prayer at St Vladimir Hill in Kiev, which is believed to be the original baptism site. Legoyda said the church is "very happy and sends its thanks to the Lord" for the fact that the procession was allowed to march peacefully and reach the hill and the Pechersk Monastery. He continued, saying that it is"a clear confirmation of the fact that the Moscow Patriarchate's Ukrainian Orthodox Church is strongest and possibly the only peace-making force in Ukraine amid the civil conflict."

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National Guard service men watch as Nuns of Ukraine's Orthodox Church of Moscow Patriarchy take part in a procession of the crossSergei Supinsky/ AFP
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Faithfuls of Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate take part in a procession marking the Christianisation of the countryGleb Garanich/ Reuters
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Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Moscow Patriarchy's clerics and believers march under Ukrainian policemen protection from protesters attack during their cross processionSergei Supinsky/ AFP
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Ukraine's Orthodox Church of Moscow Patriarchy's clerics take part in a procession of the cross marking the Day of the Baptism of Kievan Rus' in KievSergei Supinsky/ AFP
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Women kneel as a Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Moscow Patriarchy procession of the cross passes bySergei Supinsky/ AFP

Russia and Ukraine share linguistic and cultural ties which date back hundreds of years but soured after Russia threw its support behind rebel separatists fighting government troops in eastern Ukraine. This conflict has claimed more than 9,400 lives and displaced more than 1 million people since it began in 2014.