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Ukraine, Kyiv. Paweł, the head of the Pechersk Lavra, received a notification about the status of a suspect

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The head of the Pechersk Lavra, the Metropolitan of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate Patriarch, was notified of the status of the suspect, the Ukrainska Pravda portal reported on Saturday. According to the Ukrainian media, these are two articles of the criminal code – incitement of religious hatred and justification of Russian aggression.

Ukrainian Pravda, citing a clergyman, reported that the Security Service was being searched at his place of residence Ukraine. Earlier, the priest refused to let the inventory commission of the Ministry of Culture into the Pechersk Lavra.

Paweł, the head of the Peczerska bench, surrounded by the faithfulPAP/EPA/OLEG PETRASYUK

The monks of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate refused to leave the most important complex of Orthodox churches in Ukraine, the Pechersk Lavra in Kiev, which they were supposed to do until March 29 due to the expiration of the lease agreement for the complex. The entry of officials to the temple was prevented on Thursday and Friday by the clergy and a group of believers. The Minister of Culture, Oleksandr Tkachenko, announced on Friday that the case had been referred to the court. Ukrainian Pravda reminds that the metropolitan “openly threatened the president of Ukraine” and called the minister of culture “possessed by the devil”.

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The clergy and a group of believers prevented officials from entering the Pechersk Lavra in Kiev on Thursday and FridayPAP/EPA/OLEG PETRASYUK

Dispute over ties with the Russian Orthodox Church

Earlier, the Ministry of Culture officially took over the cathedral from the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (UCP) associated with the Moscow Patriarchate, deciding that it would not renew the temple’s lease contract with the UCP. So far, the UCP, which in May 2022 deleted the term “Moscow Patriarchate” from its name, was the only one to use religious facilities in the Lavra, leasing them from the state. This was due to the fact that after the collapse of the USSR, when religious buildings, including the Lavra, were given to the faithful, the Orthodox Church associated with Moscow was the only Orthodox Church in Ukraine.

The Pechersk Lavra – the most important center of Orthodoxy in Ukraine – is a huge monastery complex, entered on the UNESCO listPAP/EPA/OLEG PETRASYUK

After the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the UCP stopped referring to the Moscow Patriarchate in its name and made many gestures of distancing itself from Moscow. Nevertheless, many hierarchs and clergy still feel attached to the Russian Church. The latter openly supports the war against Ukraine.

Main photo source: PAP/EPA/OLEG PETRASYUK

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