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The ROC should not be confused with the Orthodox Church in America (OCA), another autocephalous Orthodox Church (since 1970, albeit not universally recognised in this status), that traces its existence in North America to the time of the Russian missionaries in Alaska (then part of the Russian Empire) in the late 18th century, and still adheres to the ROC liturgical tradition. The ROCOR was instituted in the 1920s by Russian communities outside then Communist Russia, which refused to recognize the authority of the Moscow Patriarchate then de facto headed by Metropolitan Sergius Stragorodsky.

The ROC should also not be confused with the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia (also known as the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad, or ROCOR), headquartered in New York, New York, U. The two Churches reconciled on May 17, 2007; the ROCOR is now a self-governing part of the Russian Orthodox Church.

is one of the autocephalous Eastern Orthodox churches, in full communion with other Eastern Orthodox patriarchates.

The Primate of the ROC is the Patriarch of Moscow and all Rus'.

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There is evidence that the first Christian bishop was sent to Novgorod from Constantinople either by Patriarch Photius or Patriarch Ignatios, c. By the mid-10th century, there was already a Christian community among Kievan nobility, under the leadership of Byzantine Greek priests, although paganism remained the dominant religion.

Princess Olga of Kiev was the first ruler of Kievan Rus′ to convert to Christianity, either in 945 or 957.

The ROC branches in Belarus, Estonia, Latvia, Moldova and Ukraine since the 1990s enjoy various degrees of self-government, albeit short of the status of formal ecclesiastical autonomy.

In Ukraine, ROC (represented by the Ukrainian Orthodox Church) has tensions with schismatic groups supported by the current government, while it enjoys the position of numerically dominant religious organisation.

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