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SBU detains priest of Kremlin-linked church over selling arms

by Martin Fornusek September 26, 2023 12:36 PM 2 min read
The Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) detains a priest of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate for illegally selling Russian arms, Kherson, Ukraine, Sept. 26, 2023. (Source: SBU)
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In Kherson, the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) and the police had detained a priest of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate who was allegedly selling Russian weapons and ammunition, the SBU announced on Sept. 26.

The suspect, a priest of a church in Kherson Oblast, was selling arms left behind by Russian forces after they were pushed back by Ukraine's counteroffensive last fall, the report said.

The clergyman was reportedly hiding the weapons in two caches, one of them located on a construction site of a new Moscow Patriarchate's church building in Kherson.

According to the SBU, the suspect was detained while attempting to sell two Igla man-portable air-defense systems and RPG-7 anti-tank grenade launcher ammunition.

The priest was reportedly also in possession of a machine gun, a Kalashnikov assault rifle, three F-1 hand grenades, and 7,000 small arms rounds.

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The weapons have been sent for examination and will be later handed over to the Ukrainian military, the SBU said.

The suspect was allegedly seeking out potential buyers through his own connections, which included criminal circles.

The Security Service noted that continued arms sales "would aggravate the internal situation in Kherson, namely in relation to provocations by the Russian special services."

The priest faces up to seven years in prison.

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 were also convicted of directly assisting Russian troops.

9 months into the war, Moscow-backed churches in Ukraine get in trouble
Ukraine has two main orthodox churches, and the one run by Moscow is having a hard time. Starting from Nov. 22, Ukraine’s law enforcement has raided several premises of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate (UOC-MP). The latest search occurred on Nov. 28 in western Ukraine. Ukr…
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