Ukraine jails priest accused of assisting Russian troops

KYIV, Dec 7 (Reuters) - A Ukrainian priest from a church affiliated with Russia has been sentenced to 12 years in prison after being found guilty of assisting Russian, the Prosecutor General's Office said on Wednesday.

Ukraine's government has been tasked with drawing up a law on banning churches affiliated with Russia under moves portrayed by President Volodymyr Zelenskiy as necessary to prevent Moscow being able to "weaken Ukraine from within." read more

The priest, from the eastern Luhansk region, was not named and could not be reached for comment. He had been collecting information on equipment and weapons held by the Ukrainian military since mid-April, the state prosecutors said.

"The enemy used the information to establish the location and fire on targets," they wrote on the Telegram messaging app.

The Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) has carried out a series of raids on parishes that Kyiv says could be taking orders from Moscow as Russia wages war on Ukraine.

Orthodox Christians make up the majority of Ukraine's population. Since the collapse of Soviet rule, competition has been fierce between the Moscow-linked church and an independent Ukrainian church proclaimed soon after independence.

The Moscow-subordinated church has condemned Russia's invasion of Ukraine but many Ukrainians fear it could be a source of Russian influence. The Orthodox Church in Russia has backed the invasion.

Reporting by Pavel Polityuk, Editing by Timothy Heritage

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.