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