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Law enforcement allege Moscow church deacon in spreading pro-Russian propaganda

by The Kyiv Independent news desk December 10, 2022 3:00 PM 2 min read
This audio is created with AI assistance

The Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) said on Dec. 10 that it had exposed a deacon, a lower-ranked church official, during a raid at one of Zaporizhzhia’s churches that belong to the controversial Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate, controlled by the Russian Orthodox Church.

It added that the deacon had publicly supported Russia’s staged annexation referendums in September and allegedly sent “messages denying the existence of Ukrainian people, (and) their language and culture.”

“An independent examination of the published materials initiated by the SBU confirmed the subversive activities of the defendant,” the SBU alleged.

9 months into the war, Moscow-backed churches in Ukraine get in trouble

According to the SBU's findings, the accused has deacon been sharing pro-war content on the Russian-controlled social media Vkontakte, banned in Ukraine. The regional prosecutor’s office said in a Facebook post that the investigation is ongoing.

Since late November, Ukraine has conducted nationwide raids on religious sites that belong to the Russian-controlled church – during which authorities say they have so far found Russian passports, anti-Ukraine propaganda, and a stolen collection of icons.

President Volodymyr Zelensky, on Dec. 2, signed a decree to approve a proposal by the National Security and Defense Council to ban Russian-affiliated religious groups and impose sanctions on some pro-Moscow bishops.

Law enforcement began another large-scale raid in Ukraine’s second-largest city of Kharkiv and the region on Dec. 10.

The SBU would conduct “counter-intelligence (security) measures” at 14 churches and cathedrals in Kharkiv linked to Moscow Patriarchate, the regional Security Sercive branch said.

The results have not been published yet.

The Moscow-affiliated Ukrainian church said in May that it had broken ties with the Russian Orthodox Church in response to the Russian Orthodox Church officially supporting the war against Ukraine. The church made no official steps towards independence.

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