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SBU conducting search at Moscow Patriarchate vicar's residence, issues suspicion notice
The Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) reported on April 1 that it gathered "reasonable evidence" regarding its suspicions of Metropolitan Pavlo Levid's actions that allegedly incited religious enmity and supported Russia's war in Ukraine.
Law enforcement said that it suspected Metropolitan Pavlo of the Russian-controlled Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate (UOC-MP) of violating the Criminal Code of Ukraine, particularly for "inciting religious enmity, justifying and denying the armed aggression of the Russian Federation against Ukraine."
Earlier in the day, Metropolitan Pavlo, a senior clergyman at the Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra, said in a video shared by the Ukrainian news media outlet New Voice of Ukraine that he received a notice of suspicion at around 7:30 a.m. and the law enforcement was about to conduct a search at his residence.
The results of the raid have not been shared by the SBU yet.
"Today, the enemy is trying to use the church environment to promote its propaganda and divide Ukrainian society," the SBU Head Vasyl Malyuk said.
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.
Despite Ukraine's Culture Ministry issuing a statement calling on monks of the Moscow-backed church 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.