Wednesday, March 29: Representatives of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate (UOC-MP) does not fully vacate the historic Kyiv Pechersk Lavra monastery.
Upon the expiration of a 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.
Saturday, April 1: Russia-backed church leader is put under house arrest as Kyiv Lavra conflict intensifies.
The Shevchenkivsky District Court of Kyiv issued an ordered for one of the leaders of the UOC-MP, Metropolitan Pavel, to be placed under round-the-clock house arrest. The Ukrainian State Security searched his home and said he was suspected of promoting Russian aggression and inciting national and religious hatred. The term of house arrest is set to last for 60 days, and an electronic bracelet has been placed on him.
One of the leaders of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine of MP, Metropolitan Pavel. Photo by Wladyslaw Musiienko
Dubbed “Pasha Mercedes” Pavel is a leading hierarch in the pro-Moscow church and abbot of the Kyiv Perchersk Lavra. Pavel has denied the allegations and said that the decision to expel the UOC-MP from the Lavra was politically driven.
Sunday, April 2: Priest of UOC-MP assaults soldier inside a church in Khmelnytsky.
A scuffle occurred at the Pokrovsky Cathedral of the UOC-MP in Khmelnytsky. A Ukrainian Armed Forces soldier in uniform was assaulted by a priest of the UOC-MP.
Screenshots from the video of beating a military man
Artur Ananyev, a discharged soldier, was attacked for questioning how many more people would have to die before people would stop praying in the UOC-MP. He was wrestled to the ground by a priest and held in position where he had trouble breathing. After the police arrived, he was charged with minor hooliganism and accused of provocation by a patrol officer. The soldier was warned that he could face a more serious charge if he was seen again.
Artur Ananyev, a discharged soldier, which was assaulted by a priest of the UOC-MP
Later in the day, some 3,000 locals gathered around the church to protest the incident, and the priests were obliged to leave the premises. The protesters gathered near the church, and chanted “Moscow priests go away” and “Glory to the Heroes,” and called for parishioners to join the Orthodox Church of Ukraine (OCU) instead of supporting the Moscow Patriarchate. For the first time, a prayer was heard in Ukrainian in the cathedral – a prayer for Ukraine, Ukrainian heroes and soldiers.
The mayor of Khmelnytsky, Oleksandr Simchyshyn, said that the city council would convene for an extraordinary session to deprive the UOC-MP of the right to use land plots within the city.
Monday, April 3: Ukraine’s parliament threatens to evict the UOC-MP from the Pochaiv Lavra.
More than 30 deputies of the Verkhovna Rada (Ukraine’s parliament) registered a draft resolution with a proposal to terminate the lease agreement for the Pochaiv Dormition Lavra in western Ukraine, near Ternopil.
The document was submitted by deputies from various factions and groups – in particular, from Servant of the People, Holos (Voice), European Solidarity and the For the Future group.
The Pochaiv Dormition Lavra is an Orthodox male monastery, second biggest in Ukraine after the Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra. The monastery is currently leased by the UOC-MP.
On the same day, after the assault on the soldier, Metropolitan Antony (Fialko) of the UOC-MP in Khmelnytsky and Starokostiantyniv announced his intention to join the independent OCU. The synod of UOC-MP prelates, led by their primate Metropolitan Onufriy, dismissed Antony from his position. Antony had been one of the longest-serving bishops loyal to Moscow.
Tuesday, April 4: The Khmelnytsky Regional Council bans UOC-MP activities on the territory of its region.
Deputies of the Khmelnytsky City Council revoked the right of the UOC-MP to use a land plot on the territory of the Pokrovsky Cathedral. The unanimous decision was adopted by 38 present and came days after the priests of the Russia-backed church in Khmelnitsky assaulted a Ukrainian soldier and local residents came out to protest.
The city council also terminated the right to permanent use of land plots for 11 other UOC-MP-affiliated religious organizations. According to the mayor of Khmelnytsky, they may later be transferred to the Orthodox Church of Ukraine, which is subordinate to Constantinople rather than Moscow, and the right to use the land will be transferred to new religious communities.
The city council of Kamianets-Podilsky, in the Khmelnytsky region, also terminated the right of the UOC-MP to use 19 plots of land, the mayor of the city, Mykhailo Positko, said.
Later that day, the Khmelnytsky Regional Council, at an extraordinary session, decided to ban the activities of the UOC-MP on the territory of the region. The deputies of the regional council adopted this decision unanimously.
Wednesday April 5: In western Ukraine, the Russia-backed church denied believers the right to mourn fallen soldier.
In the village of Zadubrivka, Chernivtsi region, representatives of the UOC-MP tried to prevent the funeral procession of a deceased Ukrainian soldier from going into the local church. The mother of the fallen soldier, with tears in her eyes, asked for the funeral goers to be allowed into the Church of Archangel Michael. The relatives of the deceased and other believers who were present began to break the locks to the church in order to bring the coffin inside.
The Church of Archangel Michael voted to transition to the OCU four years ago. The community has all the necessary documents, but the UOC-MP still does not allow them to hold services.
After a long dispute, representatives of the UOC-MP unblocked the church and allowed the mourners to enter. The priests of the OCU were then able to conduct the service to honor the Ukrainian soldier.
On the same day, the main UOC-MP church in the center of Lviv was transferred to the OCU. On Wednesday morning, the community of St. George's Cathedral of the Lviv Diocese of the UOC-MP voted for the transition to the OCU, accompanied by small skirmishes and disputes. After the vote, a service was held in Ukrainian language in the cathedral.
Nevertheless, the UOC-MP Metropolitan of Lviv and Galicia, Filaret (Kucherov), reported that unknown people – under the chairmanship of Yuriy Kholod, deputy head of the Lviv Regional Council – held a parish meeting on the transfer of the church community to the OCU, and that the religious community of the parish could not make decisions about any transition to the OCU.
Later in the day, the head of the Lviv Regional State Administration, Maksym Kozytsky, issued an order registering the charter of the parish of Great Martyr George of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church on Taras Bobanych Street, which was previously the charter of the UOC-MP.
“Now the church is putting an end to the existence of the so-called Moscow Patriarchate here. Parishioners are making a decision to transfer to the OCU. I hope that in the near future this church will become the Garrison Church of the OCU,” Kozytsky said.
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