The father of a baby crushed to death by a suicidal man who had jumped from a building, punched a priest after the clergyman refused to bury his son.
Exposing the religious divide in Ukraine – an Orthodox Christian country – the priest is said to have refused the burial as the child had been christened at a rival church.
Sparking a new war of words between the two branches of Ukraine’s main faith, the baby’s father, Roman Polishchuk, said the priest of the Moscow-led church told the family he would not perform the burial ceremony, leading him to lash out in disgust.
‘The priest said our baby was unchristened and our church was a sham,’ Polishchuk told Forpost news.
‘My wife cried and threw herself before him on her knees, but this did not help,’ he added.
Priest Yevgen Molchanov said Polishchuk then punched him and a small brawl broke out inside the church before the family was forced to leave.
The parents eventually took the baby’s body to the church where he was christened to perform the burial rights.
Priest Molchanov said he had no choice because those were the rules of his faith.
‘I am very sorry. I feel for those people,’ he told Forpost.
‘But there are certain lines I cannot cross. A child christened by the Kiev Patriarchate remains unchristened – and the Kiev Church itself is a hoax,’ Molchanov said.
The 21-month-old child died when a man who had allegedly jumped out of an eighth-floor window landed on him in Ukraine.
The boy’s father witnessed the moment when the 39-year-old man landed on his son.
Both the toddler and the man died at the scene despite desperate efforts by paramedics to revive them.
Local police reported that the man had jumped to commit suicide.
The boy’s mother Anna Polishchuk, was reportedly saying goodbye to her parents after a New Year family celebration and only came outside a few moments after her son was hit.
By then an ambulance had arrived and paramedics were frantically trying to save the ‘crumpled’ child.
Neighbor Sergey Borisov said: ‘I heard a loud thump and then the boy’s mother rushed out.
‘She ran to the ambulance where paramedics were seeking to save the child and understood everything instantly.
‘I had to shut my windows because there was so much agonizing pain in her screams. I just couldn’t bear hearing them.’
A woman neighbour said: ‘A paramedic came out of the ambulance, and saw us all waiting for news.
‘She told us: “Pray for the boy. We are trying to save him”. It was the first time in my life when I heard so many people praying out loud.’
Senior paramedic Vitaly Reznikov confirmed: ‘The man who committed suicide fell right onto the boy.
‘The toddler crumpled from the strength of the hit. We tried to reanimate his heart and lungs but the boy died inside the ambulance.’
The dead man has only been named as Yevgeny, a construction worker who was a neighbour of the toddler’s relatives.
Neighbours said he knew the family including the toddler he killed.
A police spokeswoman said: ‘We are investigating the reasons that pushed the man to suicide.
‘We are checking if he could have been drunk, or if there were other reasons that made him do this.’
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