A prominent Orthodox Church leader in Ukraine has stated that Russian President Vladimir Putin is being guided by Satan.
Patriarch Filaret of Kiev and All Rus-Ukraine, released a statement Friday titled the "New Cain," which is based off of the Genesis 4 account of Cain and Abel.
Filaret did not mention Putin by name, but he did refer in his statement to a "governor" who "is cynically lying" about his country's "sending killers mercenaries to our country."
"In his will and power is to immediately stop the bloodshed and death, but it is for the sake of his pride he continues to multiply evil," stated Filaret.
"He calls himself a brother to the Ukrainian people, but in fact according to his deeds, he really became the new Cain, shedding the brotherly blood and entangling the whole world with lies."
The patriarch added that, juding by his actions, Putin has been possessed by the devil in the same way that Judas Iscariot was possessed to betray Jesus Christ.
"Calls for this ruler and his minions have already been sounded many times publicly — to think again, to stop sowing evil and death, to repent," continued Filaret.
"But it seems that he remains deaf to these appeals and only multiplies evil, because satan went into him, as into Judas Iscariot."
Over the past several months violence has broken out in eastern Ukraine due to a recent referendum that purportedly showed that the Crimean region wanted to break away from the nation.
The ensuing violence has been between pro-Russian separatists and pro-Ukrainian nationalists and has cost an estimated 2,600 lives since April.
A baptized member of the Russian Orthodox Church, Putin has a reputation for being a strong supporter of the institution, which lost much of its power during the Soviet era.
The post-Soviet return of the Orthodox Church to a position of prominence in Russia is often credited as having happened because of Putin, noted the Canadian publication The Globe and Mail.
"Putin oversaw the resurrection of the Russian Orthodox Church, including the reconstruction of some 23,000 churches that had been destroyed or fallen into disuse," reported Globe and Mail. "To the delight of the church leadership, Putin's policies have also taken a sharply conservative turn since his return to the Kremlin last year for a third term as president."
Filaret's denunciation of Putin comes as the European Union is expected to put sanctions on Russia for its proxy involvement in the Ukraine conflict.
"The EU says new sanctions against Russia should be adopted shortly and take effect on Tuesday, despite a Kremlin warning of retaliation," reported the BBC.
"But an EU spokeswoman said the sanctions would be 'reversible,' depending on the situation in Ukraine. Pro-Russian separatists and government troops are observing a fragile truce."