Ukraine has imposed sanctions against seven more clerics involved in a pro-Moscow church. Sanctioned priests are suspected of collaborating with Russian occupation authorities and justifying Moscow’s invasion.
The imposed sanctions will last for five years: They involve freezing the assets of the listed people, restricting them from exporting capital from Ukraine, and blocking land ownership.
The announcement was the latest in a series of actions against the Ukrainian branch of the Orthodox Church with longstanding ties to Moscow (UOC-MP).
On Dec. 2, Zelensky signed a decree on the implementation of Ukraine’s National Security and Defense Council decision, in particular prohibiting the activities of religious organizations associated with Russia.
Ukraine’s State Service for Ethno-Politics and Freedom of Conscience will conduct an examination of the charter of the UOC-MP in terms of its relationship with the Moscow patriarchate.
In addition, the Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra will be checked for the use of its property by religious organizations. Ukrainian authorities have promised to impose sanctions against priests who cooperate with Russia.
The NSDC also imposed sanctions against former deputy of the parliament Vadim Novinsky.
Among the priests sanctioned was the vicar of the Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra, Metropolitan Pavel (Lebed), as well as about ten priests of the UOC-MP, mainly from the territories occupied by Russian troops.
Orthodox Christians make up the majority of Ukraine's population. After the fall of the Soviet Union, competition intensified between Moscow-affiliated churches and Ukrainian churches which were declared independent shortly thereafter.
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