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High-level Ukrainian priest of Moscow-linked church charged for his pro-Russian statements

by The Kyiv Independent news desk April 6, 2023 4:11 PM 2 min read
Metropolitan Pavlo, running the Lavra, blesses believers of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate at the Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra monastery in Kyiv on March 29, 2023. Pavlo has since been ousted from the Lavra and charged with supporting Russia's war against Ukraine. (SERGEI CHUZAVKOV/AFP via Getty Images)
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The head priest of the Moscow-linked Ukrainian Orthodox Church in Cherkasy Oblast was charged with justifying Russian aggression against Ukraine, the State Security Service (SBU) reported on April 6.

According to the SBU, the priest praised the religious officials who help Russia, and also called for the "unification" of religious communities in the war against Ukraine.

The SBU posted a video where its representative is reading the charges to the priest.

In 2020, the priest commissioned a new departmental website for the diocese based on the template of the Russian Orthodox Church, according to evidence collected by the SBU during its investigation. Russian software was used in the development of the website to spread content from pro-Kremlin websites, according to the SBU.

According to the SBU, this includes propagandists from the Russian Orthodox Church justifying the Russian invasion of Ukraine and war crimes committed against Ukrainian civilians.

The Orthodox Church of Ukraine, which was granted autocephaly (ecclesiastical independence from the Russian church) by the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Constantinople in January 2019, is not to be confused with the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate, which subordinates to the Russian church.

Ukraine has long accused the Moscow Patriarchate's representatives in Ukraine of serving as the Kremlin's propaganda arm on the religious front.

Earlier this week, the SBU said it was investigating a priest of the Moscow-controlled church after it became known he was blessing Russian soldiers during the occupation of Kharkiv Oblast.

On April 5, other members of the Moscow-linked church temporarily obstructed a memorial service for a fallen soldier from entering a church in Chernivtsi Oblast in western Ukraine.

Multiple cities in Ukraine have revoked the land rights of churches belonging to the Moscow Patriarchate or prohibited them from continuing to hold services.

The most high-profile conflict concerns the Kyiv Pechersk Lavra, Ukraine's most important Orthodox monastery, currently occupied by the representatives of the Moscow-linked church. The Culture Ministry had ordered the Moscow Patriarchate clergy to leave the premises of the monastery.

The Khmelnytskyi Сity Сouncil and the Kamianets-Podilskyi City Council revoked the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate's land rights on April 4, the former after a military officer was assaulted at their place of worship.

Destruction, isolation, and controversy in frontline monastery of Sviatohirsk
SVIATOHIRSK, Donetsk Oblast – For centuries, the gleaming whitewashed walls of the Sviatohirsk Dormition Lavra, peeking out of the hilly forest above the Siverskyi Donets River, attracted pilgrims from across the Eastern Orthodox world. Now, in an obscene imitation of a Jackson Pollock painting, the…
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