On April 1, the Shevchenkivsky District Court of Kyiv issued an ordered for one of the leaders of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine of the Moscow Patriarchate (UOC-MP) to be placed under round-the-clock house arrest.  

The Ukrainian State Security (SBU) searched his home and said he was suspected of justifying Russian aggression and inciting national and religious hatred. The term of house arrest is set to last for 60 days.

A leading hierarch in the pro-Moscow church and abbot of the Kyiv Pechersk Lavra monastery, Metropolitan Pavel has denied the allegations and said that the decision to expel the UOC-MP from the Lavra was politically driven.

He argues that Ukraine's authorities have no legal grounds to evict the monks from the ancient monastery, which has become a symbol of Ukraine’s continuing efforts to free its cultural and religious patrimony from Russian imperialist domination.

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“I have never been on the side of aggression,” Metropolitan Pavel said in the courthouse. “This is my land.” But the SBU say they have evidence that shows otherwise.

The house arrest will take place at the official registered address of the Metropolitan, in the village of Voronkiv, Kyiv region. Pavel claims that there is no communication, light, and even "nowhere to spend the night."

The prosecutor's office also made a request to forbid Pavel from posting to social media. The court, however, decided not to grant the request.

On Sunday, April 2, the leadership of the UOC-MP continued to defy the authorities. Its primate, Metropolitan Onufriy conducted a religious service in the Lavra and his supporters once again gathered in the complex. There was no sign of Pavel.

Meanwhile in Moscow, Russian leaders have not hesitated to throw their support behind the UOC-MP. Former president Dmitry Medvedev wrote on his Telegram channel today: “Looking at what zelensky & Co are doing to Kiev-Pechersk Lavra  you especially acutely understand what rabid bastards and vile scum they are [sic].” He went on to allude to the Apocalypse. 

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The background

On March 29, representatives of the UOC-MP did not leave the Pechersk Lavra upon the expiration of the lease agreement, by which previous Ukrainian governments had allowed them to use the state-owned monastery complex free of charge.

The UOC-MP asserts its right to remain there, pending further judicial process. Its supporters have gathered at the Lavra, shouted angrily at journalists. Pavel himself threatened to smash a journalist’s camera.

The protestors at the Lavra have denied access to representatives of the Ministry of Culture who want to carry out an inventory of the historic and cultural objects at the site.

Police have reported finding icons in a vehicle that was checked while seeking to leave the Lavra.

The protestors claim they are victims of religious oppression. Some said they were ready to die for the church.

The majority of Ukrainians, whether believers or not, tend to view the UOC-MP and its defenders as Russian fifth-columnists who should no longer be allowed to promote Moscow’s interests and narratives in Ukraine, nor profit from controlling the country’s most sacred and historically significant religious sites.

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On the morning of April 1, Pavel said that investigators of the SBU had handed him a notice of suspicion and were also conducting searches at his home and at the Pechersk Lavra.

The SBU confirmed the grounds for the suspicion were support for Russian aggression against Ukraine and allegedly calling the primate of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine (OCU) Epiphanius a schismatic, that is, accusing him of promoting a schism (or split), with the pro-Moscow church which claims to be the only canonical one.

The OCU represents Ukrainian Orthodox Christians who have rejected Moscow’s control and who are in communion with the ‘Ecumenical’ Patriarch of Constantinople, Bartholomew.  Several million Ukrainian Catholics recognize the Pope as the head of their church.

The SBU explained that it had gathered an evidence base regarding Pavel's involvement in inciting religious hatred, justifying and denying Russia's armed aggression against Ukraine.

It has published Pavel's intercepted audio conversation, in which he can be heard rejoicing at the temporary occupation of Kherson and declaring that there are no Ukrainians in the western regions of Ukraine.

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1492 survivor
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Men of religion pron to support colonization threw violence. Who would have thought?

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