Metropolitan Pavel, the vicar of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate (UOC-MP) at the Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra, who was detained under house arrest since April 2023 under suspicion of engaging in subversive activities against Ukraine, was released from custody after posting a bail of Hr. 33.3 million (nearly $1 million).
“This is the joint merit of the parishioners of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church [Moscow Patriarchate], who proved that nothing is impossible,” his lawyer Mykyta Chekman wrote via Telegram on Monday, August 7.
Chekman clarified that the seemingly high bail was successfully collected through donations from parishioners, facilitated by the publication of details on the UOC-MP website. Furthermore, Chekman shared a video message from Pavel, expressing gratitude to all who contributed to his release from the detention center.
Metropolitan Pavel faces multiple charges, including inciting inter-religious discord and endorsing Russia’s armed aggression against Ukraine.
On March 30, the UOC-MP was expected to vacate the premises of the Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra but declined to do so.
On April 1, the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) apprehended Pavel, leading to his placement under 24-hour house arrest by the Shevchenkiv District Court in Kyiv. Subsequently, in July, the Solomensky District Court modified the preventive measure of detention, offering the possibility of bail amounting to Hr.33 million.
Additionally, a new accusation was leveled against Pavel on July 13. The SBU pointed out that the Metropolitan had participated in a video interview with a domestic media outlet, during which he “denied the existence of Ukraine as a sovereign state.”
“The suspect also referred to the Russian armed aggression against Ukraine as a ‘civil conflict,’ ongoing since 2014,” noted the SBU.
The series of events originated in the autumn of 2022 when the SBU conducted multiple searches in churches and monasteries, gathering evidence of UOC-MP representatives’ collaboration with Russia. Subsequently, several criminal cases were initiated based on this evidence.
By Dec. 1 of the previous year, President Volodymyr Zelensky announced a move toward “spiritual independence” from Moscow. Sanctions were imposed on a number of hierarchs of the UOC-MP, including Metropolitan Pavlo, due to their connections with Russia.
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