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Media: SBU suspects Moscow-backed Orthodox Church metropolitan of supporting Russia's war
The Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) issued a notice of suspicion against the abbot of Kyiv Pechersk Lavra, Metropolitan Pavlo Lebid, for "inciting inter-religious hatred and justifying Russia's armed aggression," Ukrainian media outlet Liga.net reported on April 1, citing a source in law enforcement.
Metropolitan Pavlo confirmed he had received the notice of suspicion at around 7:30 a.m. on April 1, according to a video shared by the Ukrainian media outlet New Voice of Ukraine. In the video, he said that law enforcement was about to conduct searches in his residence.
The media report comes as controversy grows over Metropolitan Pavlo and other members of the Russian-backed Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate (UOC-MP)'s decision to stay at Kyiv's ancient monastery despite the Ukrainian government's call to leave the premises.
A few days after Ukraine's Culture Ministry issued a statement calling on monks of the Russian Orthodox Church's Ukrainian branch to vacate Kyiv Pechersk Lavra by March 29, Moscow Patriarchate said it had no intention of leaving.
On March 30, members of a commission from the Culture Ministry were blocked from conducting check-ups on two buildings inside the monastery's premises, the Ukrainian branch of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty reported. The commission members said, according to the media report, that they would get in touch with the police if this continues.
Since November, the SBU has conducted dozens of raids on Moscow Patriarchate churches, including the 980-year-old Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra. Amid searches across Ukraine, the SBU found Russian propaganda, xenophobic literature, as well as Russian passports of the church's leaders and documents with pro-Russian ideological messages.