A cleric of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate (UOC-MP) convicted for collaborationism was handed over to Russia in exchange for 28 Ukrainian prisoners of war, the Security Service chief Vasyl Maliuk told Interfax Ukraine.
According to Ukrainska Pravda's source in law enforcement, Maliuk meant Andrii Pavlenko, a priest from Lysychansk, who was found guilty of treason and faced 12 years of imprisonment.
Pavlenko was transferred to Russia as part of a prisoner swap on Dec. 14, 2022, where he was personally met by Wagner Group founder Yevgeny Prigozhin, the Ukrainian media outlet wrote.
In his interview with Interfax Ukraine, Maliuk said that since 2022, Ukrainian law enforcement had opened criminal cases against 61 members of the Russian-controlled church.
Seven UOC-MP clerics have been convicted of collaborationism and treason, two of whom were exchanged for Ukrainian POWs.
Ukraine has long accused the Moscow Patriarchate's representatives in Ukraine of serving as the Kremlin's propaganda arm on the religious front.
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.