December 3, 2023

Authorities will bolster security measures across the country as Ukrainians prepare to celebrate another Orthodox Easter while fighting Russia’s war. 

Residents are discouraged from attending church services late at night this weekend, and many cemeteries will remain closed due to the danger of unexploded mines and Russian shelling.

Eastern Orthodox Christians celebrate Palm Sunday and Easter one week after many Christians in the US and other Western countries observe the holiday.

Ukrainian officials have warned in the past that Russian attacks may increase around specific dates, holidays or events. Oleksiy Biloshytskyi, a national law enforcement official, said police will use special monitoring centers to look out for any signs of attacks.

“We must remember that the enemy is insidious and can take any action even during this (Easter) night,” he said.

In the capital Kyiv, residents will be able to attend late evening church services despite a curfew, but they must arrive at church before the curfew takes effect, the head of the Kyiv City Military Administration, Serhii Popko, said Thursday in a Telegram post.

Popko said churchgoers and clergy should research the nearest shelter to their congregation and be prepared to flee to safety if an air raid alarm sounds.

The curfew hours in Kyiv last from midnight to 5 a.m. local time (10 p.m. ET), as is the case for most of the country.

In the broader Kyiv region, residents will only be able to attend church services when the curfew is not in effect, and only a limited number of people will be allowed on the grounds of churches and cemeteries due to security reasons, the Kyiv region’s military administration said Monday. 

Many churches will broadcast services online, it added.

In northeastern Kharkiv, which is Ukraine’s second-largest city, officials will close a number of cemeteries.

Authorities warned that one of the cemeteries, the Slobozhanskyi memorial complex, has not been fully cleared of explosive mines.

Other city cemeteries will be closed on Easter “to avoid provocations by the enemy and to protect citizens from unpredictable missile attacks,” the city council said.

In the southern city of Kherson, residents won’t be able to visit cemeteries or attend church services during curfew hours, the city council said Tuesday.

It said the ban on cemeteries was due to mine danger.

“The enemy daily launches hostile attacks on the civilian population of the Kherson community. Unfortunately, the possibility of shelling during the holidays cannot be ruled out,” the city council said. 


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