“It is a disgrace for the pro-Moscow church in Ukraine that it has such a Pasha Mercedes”
Photo: Viacheslav Ratynskyi/PAP
Pechersk Lavra in Kiev is the most important center of Orthodoxy in Ukraine. For almost three decades, the Orthodox monastery located on its territory has been headed by Metropolitan Paweł. He is a pro-Moscow cleric who threatened President Volodymyr Zelensky with “God’s punishment”, insulted journalists and paraded in front of the faithful in a Louis Vuitton scarf, and who boasted that he received money from Vladimir Putin for the renovation of temples.
He is 62 years old, secular name – Petro Lebid, called by Ukrainian journalists “Pasha Mercedes” (because of his love for this brand) or “Papa Kievski”. Metropolitan Pavel, the superior of the Orthodox monastery in the Pechersk Lavra in Kiev, has recently become one of the most recognizable people in the Ukrainian information space. He owes it to his stubbornness. He consistently opposed the decision of the authorities in Kiev to leave the Pechersk Lavra. The land has been leased by the Church of the Moscow Patriarchate since I was president Ukraine was a pro-Russian president Viktor Yanukovychand Prime Minister Mykola Azarov, who did not even speak Ukrainian. The lease agreement expired on March 29 this year.
Metropolitan Pavel, instead of moving out of the Pechersk Lavra, taking over 200 of his monks from there, recorded a video in which he threatened President Volodymyr Zelensky and his family with “divine punishment.”
“I’m telling you, Mr. President and all your gang, that our tears will not fall to the ground. They will fall on your head,” the words were said.
Oleksandr Tkachenko, the head of the Ministry of Culture, which manages the entire area of the Pechersk Lavra, the priest called “possessed by the devil.”
At the beginning of April, Metropolitan Pavel already had the status of a suspect. The Security Service of Ukraine charged him with inciting religious hatred and justifying the Russian military invasion of Ukraine. A Kiev court sentenced him to two months of house arrest.
On the banks of the Dnieper
The Pechersk Lavra is one of the most beautiful places in Kiev, situated on a hill on the banks of the Dnieper River. It is also the most important Orthodox center in Ukraine. The huge monastery complex, located on 23 hectares and with over 140 objects, was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List in the 1990s. Earlier – in Soviet times – the valuable monument had the status of a museum and was the center of anti-religious propaganda. Spiritual life began to return to this place in the late 1980s. The church subordinated to Moscow was the only Orthodox Church in Ukraine at that time, which is why it was the only one to use religious buildings on the territory of the Lavra.
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