The abbot of the Kyiv Pechersk Lavra, Metropolitan Pavlo, said on March 29 that he and other members of the Russian-controlled Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate (UOC-MP) have the right to stay and do not plan to leave the Lavra until the end of the ongoing legal proceedings concerning the monastery, reported Ukrainska Pravda.
On March 10, the Culture Ministry issued a statement saying monks from the UOC-MP must leave the Kyiv Pechersk Lavra, Ukraine’s most important Orthodox monastery, by March 29.
“On Tuesday, a letter arrived stating that on the 30th, the ‘transfer’ of the Lavra to the state will begin,” said Metropolitan Pavlo.
“The law is on our side. We will stay in the Lavra until the trial is over. We have a long-term contract that cannot be terminated during wartime.”
Pavlo added that he was offered a compromise where the Moscow-controlled church leader Metropolitan Onufrii, the seminary, and himself leave the Lavra, responding that “one does not come down from the cross, one is taken down from it.”
Meanwhile, when asked by journalists from Ukrainian Media outlet Radio Svoboda why the members of the Moscow Patriarchate were taking things out of the Lavra, Pavlo replied “because it’s ours.”
On March 29, the Commercial Court of Kyiv received a lawsuit initiated by the UOC-MP monastery in the Kyiv-Pechersk Larva, demanding the contract termination with the UOC-MP be declared invalid.
The Russian-controlled church’s lease on a part of the Kyiv Pechersk Lavra – called the Upper Lavra – expired on Jan. 1, and the Ukrainian government decided not to extend the lease.
Later, Ukrainian authorities said they would also terminate the Russian-affiliated church’s indefinite lease on the remaining part, the Lower Lavra, from March 29, accusing it of violating the terms of the lease.