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Both Ukrainian and Russian-controlled churches hold Easter services in Kyiv Pechersk Lavra

by The Kyiv Independent news desk April 17, 2023 1:22 AM 2 min read
A priest (R) blesses believers during an Orthodox Palm Sunday service at the Refectory Church of Saint Anthony and Theodosius in the medieval cave monastery of Kyiv Pechersk Lavra in Kyiv on April 9, 2023, amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine. (Photo by Dimitar Dilkoff/AFP via Getty Images)
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The Orthodox Church of Ukraine and the Moscow Patriarchate on April 16 held Easter services in the same iconic Kyiv Pechersk Lavra monastery complex, but in different churches and at different times.

At the entrance to the territory of the Lavra, the police checked visitors' documents and belongings as tensions between the Ukrainian and Russian-backed churches run high.

It was the first time when an Easter service was held in Ukrainian by the Orthodox Church of Ukraine in the Lavra, Ukraine's most important Orthodox monastery.

Previously the Lavra was completely controlled by the Russian-affiliated church, which is officially known as the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate.

The Russian-controlled church's lease on a part of the Kyiv Pechersk Lavra - called the Upper Lavra - expired on Jan. 1, and the Ukrainian government decided not to extend the lease. Later the Ukrainian authorities said they would also terminate the Russian-affiliated church's indefinite lease on the remaining part, the Lower Lavra, starting from March 29, accusing it of violating the terms of the lease.

The Russian-backed church argued that the termination of the lease was illegal and refused to leave.

On April 1, the court placed Pavlo Lebid, the abbot of Kyiv Pechersk Lavra and a Moscow Patriarchate cleric, under house arrest. He was charged with defending Russia's aggression against Ukraine and inciting religious hatred.

Since January, the Ukrainian government has allowed the Orthodox Church of Ukraine, which is independent from Russia, to hold several church services in the Kyiv Pechersk Lavra. There is speculation that the authorities may permanently transfer the Lavra to the Orthodox Church of Ukraine.

Orthodox Church of Ukraine holds church service at Kyiv Pechersk Lavra for the first time.
Previously the entire Lavra was controlled by the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate, an affiliate of the Russian Orthodox Church.
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