The Czech government has made the head of the Russian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Kirill, the first person on its national sanctions list due to his support for Russia's invasion of Ukraine, Foreign Minister Jan Lipavsky said on Wednesday.
Kirill, 76, was listed by his civil name of Vladimir Mikhailovich Gundyayev on the sanctions roster, which is posted on the Foreign Ministry's website.
His inclusion means he is barred from entry to the Czech Republic, a European Union and NATO member country, and banned from any financial transactions with Czechs.
"His frequent public remarks supporting the war in Ukraine, justifying atrocities committed by Russian troops there, those are all clear evidence that can be publicly found," Lipavsky told a televised news conference.
Patriarch Kirill is a close ally of President Vladimir Putin and has strongly backed the war in Ukraine, in which tens of thousands of people have been killed and millions driven from their homes. Russia denies accusations of war crimes in Ukraine.
The 27-nation EU as a whole tried to put Kirill on its sanctions list last year but member states failed to find unanimity on the issue as Hungary opposed his inclusion.
On Tuesday, Kirill branded Russians who fail to serve their country as "internal enemies" and described patriotism as the "greatest virtue", the RIA state news agency reported.