The Security Service of Ukraine said on Nov. 25 it had conducted searches on the territory of the Chernivtsi and Bukovyna Diocese of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate and found documents confirming that its leaders have Russian citizenship.
Law enforcement also found Moscow's manuals on conducting services after the start of the full-scale invasion.
Representatives of the church were instructed to misinform parishioners about the socio-political situation in Ukraine and the situation at the front, according to the report.
Chernivtsi is a regional capital in the west of Ukraine.
On Nov. 23, the Security Service conducted a raid at a historic Kyiv monastery, Kyiv's Pechersk Lavra. The searches were carried out to search for sabotage groups, foreign citizens, or illegal weapons, as well as to prevent the use of facilities as "centers of the Russian world," according to the SBU.
Raids were also conducted at the Korets Monastery in Rivne Oblast and other facilities of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate in the region.
On May 27, three months after Russia launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine, the Moscow-affiliated Ukrainian Orthodox Church said it would have "full independence" from the Russian Orthodox Church.
However, skeptics said it was just a ploy to appease critics since the Ukrainian branch effectively remained part of the Russian church and did not declare "autocephaly" – the Orthodox term for genuine independence.
The Ukrainian branch also said it "condemns the war" and "disagrees with the position of Patriarch Kirill of Moscow on the war in Ukraine."
Patriarch Kirill, the head of Russia’s Orthodox Church, has been vocal in his support for Russia's war against Ukraine. During a sermon in September, he said that sacrificing life in the war against Ukraine ‘washes away sins.’