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Moscow-backed Orthodox Church metropolitan taken into custody

by Dinara Khalilova and The Kyiv Independent news desk July 15, 2023 12:24 AM 2 min read
Former governor of the Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra, Metropolitan Pavlo (Lebid) attends a session of the Kyiv Court of Appeal considering his appeal against the round-the-clock house arrest with the obligation to wear an electronic monitoring device on April 21, 2023. (Pavlo_Bagmut / Ukrinform/Future Publishing via Getty Images)
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Kyiv's court changed the measure of restraint for Russian-led Orthodox Metropolitan Pavlo (Petro Lebid) from 24-hour house arrest to detention, Suspilne news outlet reported on July 14.

Lebid will stay in custody until August 14 if he doesn't post bail set at Hr 33 million ($898,000). He is accused of inciting hatred and justifying Russia's war against Ukraine.

The reason for changing the restraint measure was Lebid's violation of one of the duties imposed by the judge. Prosecutors say that the metropolitan had contact with one of the witnesses in the criminal case, despite his knowledge of the ban.

According to Suspilne, Lebid claimed that he didn't know the witness and that he had "never in his life been on the side of the aggressor" and "never supported Putin."

After the hearing, Metropolitan Pavlo of the Russian-affiliated Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate said he did not agree with the judge's decision, adding that he did not have the money for bail. However, according to prosecutors, Lebid owns property worth a total of around $1.6 million.

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Editor’s Note: The opinions expressed in the op-ed section are those of the authors and do not purport to reflect the views of the Kyiv Independent. The Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate, a Ukrainian branch of the Russian Orthodox Church and not to be confused with the

Lebid was placed under house arrest on April 1 with an obligation to wear an electronic bracelet.

According to Ukraine's Security Service (SBU), Lebid repeatedly offended the religious feelings of Ukrainians, humiliated the views of believers of other confessions, and supported Russia's invasion of Ukraine, including the occupation of Kherson.

Lebid has held consistent pro-Russian views and called for "unity" with Russia. He has also stated that "Crimea has never been Ukrainian."

Since November, the SBU has conducted dozens of raids on Moscow Patriarchate churches, including the 980-year-old Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra. During the searches, the SBU found Russian propaganda, xenophobic literature, as well as Russian passports of the church's leaders and documents with pro-Russian ideological messages.

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