The festivities in Crimea, featuring a joint parade of the Ukrainian and Russian naval ships, will follow celebration of 1,025th anniversary of the introduction of Christianity in Kiev, then the capital of the ancient Slavic state of Kievan Rus.
The disclosure of Putin’s Sevastopol traveling plans on Sunday shows that the Russian president will probably spend more time in Ukraine than has been originally expected, opening possibility for negotiations.
Ukraine has been seeking to avert Russian trade restrictions following Kiev’s refusal earlier this year to join the Customs Union, a Moscow-led trade bloc.
Ukrainian nationalist Svoboda party said Tuesday it will launch a protest action against Putin during his visit to Ukraine and against Moscow’s expansionist foreign policy.
Putin and Russian Orthodox Church Patriarch Kirill will attend the celebration in Kiev along with other foreign and religious leaders.
"The event will be also attended by heads of state and delegations from countries in which Orthodox Christianity believers dominate, as well as leaders of local Orthodox churches,” the Yanukovych press service reported.
Oleksandr Popov, the appointed by Yanukovych head of the Kiev government, said presidents of five countries and leaders of nine churches are expected to arrive for the celebrations in Kiev.
“This is what makes this year’s celebration special,” Popov said.
“Kiev hasn’t seen yet something like this.”
Yanukovych is also expected to hold a series of bilateral meetings with heads of state that will arrive in Ukraine for the celebrations, according to the press service.
Culture Minister Leonid Novokhatko said the main prayer will be held on Saturday near the monument of the St. Volodymyr and rejected speculations that the gathering will be dominated by Russians and restricted to Ukrainians.
"Primarily foreign visitors, representatives of religions, secular and spiritual leaders, plus a church choir and journalists will be there," Novokhatko said.
"I would not say that there will be representatives of one country,” he said.
“There will be representatives of all the countries that will join us for the celebrations.
There will be secular and religious, plus chorus, plus the clergy, and that’s it for that space.”
Source: Ukrainian Journal