Editor's note: The article was updated after a public confirmation by the SBU.
The Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) began conducting searches at the Kyiv Pechersk Lavra (monastery) on Feb. 9, the SBU confirmed. An associate of Metropolitan Pavlo, the head of the monastery, was also charged with allegedly organizing "mass provocations," the SBU added.
The monastery, one of Kyiv's dominant landmarks, was leased to the Moscow Patriarchate-linked Ukrainian Orthodox Church (UOC-MP) before authorities ordered the restoration of the Lavra's property to the state last year.
The SBU said that the search was related to an unnamed Metropolitan Pavlo's associate, who allegedly collaborated with a known Russian propagandist to instigate demonstrations in 2023.
The individual in question also justified Russia's military aggression against Ukraine and "praised" Russia's military and political leadership.
After the termination of the lease, the Culture Ministry ordered the church members to vacate the Lavra in March 2023. The clergymen contested the order and even blocked authorities from accessing the monastery, which appears to be part of the actions that the SBU referred to as a "mass provocation."
In August 2023, a court ordered the UOC-MP to return the Lavra's property to the state.
The SBU said that the individual in question faces several charges and could serve prison time if convicted.