The vicar of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate (UOC-MP) in the Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra, Metropolitan Pavel, responded to demands by the government to abide by the legal eviction notice issued weeks ago with a tirade of threats against President Zelensky and the head of the Ministry of Culture, Oleksander Tkachenko.

"I tell you, Mr. President, and your entire flock that our tears will not fall to the ground. They will fall on your head," Metropolitan Pavel said in the video address posted on Wednesday, March 29.

"Today, you think that having come into power on our backs and our desire, you can do this to us. The Lord will not forgive you or your family for this act. Because at this moment, 220 people of the brotherhood have been thrown out into the street by you," the Metropolitan added.

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At the same time, he characterized the head of the Ministry of Culture, Oleksandr Tkachenko, as being “demonically possessed.”

"You couldn't stop the minister of culture possessed by anger, hatred, and diabolical rampage, which means he does everything with your permission. Woe to you, be afraid," Pavel threatened.

On Wednesday, March 29, the representatives of the Moscow Patriarchate did not evacuate on the expiration of the temple lease agreement. They continue to assert their right to remain there, pending judicial process. Their supporters were vocal in their protests at the Lavra on Wednesday, shouting angrily at journalists and decrying what they saw as religious oppression. Some said they were ready to die for the church.

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The Ukrainian Government claims to have not formally ordered the monks of the UOC-MP to leave the site, but has said that UOC-MP senior leaders who have been responsible for illegal activities on the UNESCO-listed site should leave.

On the morning of Thursday, March 30, UOC-MP priests held a divine service in the Lavra, probably in an attempt to confront the commission from the Ministry of Culture, which was expected to arrive at 10 a.m. to begin the process of securing and transferring property on the site to the state.

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However, the Metropolitan Pavel of the Moscow Patriarchate said that the commission of the Ministry of Culture would not be allowed in the premises of the temple. Currently parishioners of the Russia-backed church are trying to block the commission from completing its work.

"What is the National Security Council? Today it is there, but tomorrow it is gone," Pavel said, in response to being summoned to the Security Service of Ukraine yesterday.

The head of the UOC-MP, Metropolitan Onufriy, had earlier left the site, refusing to speak to the media amidst cries from his parishioners: "The Lavra will be ours!"

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