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Court orders Moscow-backed church to return property to Kyiv Pechersk Lavra

by Abbey Fenbert and The Kyiv Independent news desk August 11, 2023 2:16 AM 2 min read
Orthodox Monks in procession at the Kyiv Pechersk Lavra on July 6, 2023. (Photo by Andriy Zhyhaylo/Obozrevatel/Global Images Ukraine via Getty Images)
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The Kyiv Commercial Court ordered the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate (UOC-MP) to restore property to the Kyiv Pechersk Lavra Reserve, the Culture Ministry announced on Aug. 10.

The Russian-backed church was required to return 79 objects from the section of the monastery known as the Lower Lavra.

On Aug. 9, the court also affirmed the government's decision to terminate the UOC-MP's lease on the Lower Lavra.

The Kyiv Pechersk Lavra, an important religious and cultural landmark famous for its complex cave systems, is both a monastery and museum. Following Russia's full-scale invastion of Ukraine, the government has taken steps to remove the UOC-MP from controlling the Lavra.

The Moscow-affiliated church already lost its lease on the site known as the Upper Lavra when it expired in January and the state opted not to renew. However, the church's agreement on use of the Lower Lavra, signed during the term of ousted President Viktor Yanukovych, did not specify an end date.

Nonetheless, on March 10, the Culture Ministry ordered the church to vacate the premises of the Kyiv Pechersk Lavra entirely.

While the UOC-MP contested this order, the Aug. 9 court decision affirms the eviction, and the order to return Lavra property further pressures the Moscow affiliate to cede control over the site.

The ministry called it "a fair decision."

Kyivan Rus, then and now
Kyivan Rus was one of the most developed states of medieval Europe, lasting from around the late ninth to the mid-thirteenth century. It played a significant role in the history of the continent and the future East Slavic nations. The territories of Kyivan Rus included much of modern-day Ukraine, B…
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