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Priest of Moscow-linked church sentenced to 15 years for spying for Russia

by Martin Fornusek October 25, 2023 7:06 PM 2 min read
An abbot of the Kremlin-linked Ukrainian Orthodox Church - Moscow Patriarchate (UOC-MP) is being detained by Ukraine's Security Service (SBU) for spying for Russia, on March 3, 2023. (SBU/Telegram)
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An abbot of the Kremlin-linked Ukrainian Orthodox Church – Moscow Patriarchate (UOC-MP) has been sentenced to 15 years in prison for spying on the Ukrainian military for Russia, Ukraine's Security Service (SBU) reported on Oct. 25.

According to an earlier investigation by the SBU, the priest was collecting intelligence on the defense systems in Sumy Oblast and passing it to Russia's Federal Security Service (FSB).

The priest reportedly came to the attention of Russian intelligence because of his pro-Kremlin views, which he promoted even among his parishioners, the SBU said.

He was recruited by Moscow shortly after the start of the full-scale invasion and tasked with collecting intelligence. This included information on military command posts and artillery warehouses, which Russia could use for targetting strikes, the SBU reported.

The Security Service detained the priest in March while he was attempting to pass classified information on local military administration officials to Russian intelligence services.

The Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate is subordinate to the Russian church and is not to be confused with the autocephalous (autonomous) Orthodox Church of Ukraine.

Ukraine has long accused the Moscow Patriarchate's representatives in Ukraine of serving as the Kremlin's propaganda arm in the war. Some "rank-and-file" clergymen have also been convicted of directly assisting Russian troops.

Parliament passes bill on banning Russia-affiliated religious organizations in first reading
The Verkhovna Rada, Ukraine’s parliament, passed in the first reading on Oct. 19 a bill that could ban the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate (UOC-MP), lawmakers reported.
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