The Ukrainian government is expelling the UOC monks from the Kyiv Pechersk Lavra

In a letter dated March 10 of this year, the Acting General Director of the Kyiv Cave Lavra National Museum Oleksandr Rudnik warns the monks of the historical shrine that they must leave the monastery from March 29. This is reported in the warning of the General Director of the National Historical Complex , Alexander Rudnik, published on the site of the Lavra and later deleted.. Since January 1 of this year, the fraternity of the Lavra was deprived of the opportunity to use the Dormition Council and the Tabernacle Church, which are state property and belong to the museum part of the complex, as they were given for “hourly use” to the Ukrainian Orthodox Church. Now, however, the authorities, which are hostile to the UOC because of its canonical relationship with the Russian Orthodox Church, want to expel all the monks from the Lavra along with the students from the Theological Seminary and Theological Academy.

A statement from Ukraine‘s Ministry of Culture said the UOC had been ordered to leave the 980-year-old monastery complex because it “violated the terms of the agreement on the use of state property,” but did not provide any details. For its part, the UOC indicated that it had severed ties with the Moscow Mother Church because of the war in Ukraine, but had nevertheless become the victim of a political witch hunt.

Since October, Ukrainian security services have been periodically raiding UOC churches, prosecuting its officials, bishops and financial sponsors, and have opened criminal cases against dozens of its priests. As the reason for the persecution, they state that they found pro-Russian literature in church premises, and that Russian citizens are hiding in the Lavra. The UOC has repeatedly rejected these claims.

The Ukrainian government has terminated the agreement with the UOC-MP for free use of religious buildings located in the Lower Lavra, part of the most important Orthodox monastery in Ukraine. Earlier, the Ukrainian state did not extend the Russian-linked church’s lease on another part of the Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra, called the Upper Lavra, beginning the process of establishing state control over the monastery.

In 2013, the Ukrainian Patriarchate signed a lease for the use of the Lower Lavra buildings in downtown Kyiv for an indefinite period of time. President Volodymyr Zelenskiy’s government began an investigation into the legality of the UOC MP’s lease in early December, ultimately concluding that the church had violated the terms of the contract, the Ministry of Culture said in a statement. The church has faced backlash in recent months due to the church’s long-standing ties to Russia, as well as a search last year of Ukrainian offices that allegedly found Russian passports, anti-Ukrainian propaganda documents and stolen icons. Photographs of Russian passport covers and brochures were posted online after the search of the monastery.

Although in May 2022 the UOC MP declared independence from the Russian Orthodox Church and condemned the ongoing war in Ukraine, the Ukrainian authorities continue their crackdown on the church. In the Ukrainian media, including the edition cited in the publication, it is claimed that the UOC MP remains subordinate to Moscow in the hierarchy of the Orthodox world. Another propaganda thesis spread by the media is related to the history of the Lavra, namely that one of the first monasteries in Kievan Rus was annexed by the Russian Orthodox Church in 1688 and has been used for imperial propaganda ever since. For this reason, on December 1, President Zelensky announced the beginning of a procedure to ban the activities of the UOC-MP in Ukraine. Part of this campaign is the ongoing persecution of the monastery.

The Holy Monastery, also known as the Russian Jerusalem, was founded in the 11th century, during the time of Grand Duke Izyaslav. At the end of the 16th and the beginning of the 17th century, the monastery was subordinated to the Patriarch of Constantinople and became the center of opposition between the Orthodox Church and the Catholic Uniate community. Twice, in 1596 and 1598, the Uniates made an unsuccessful attempt to conquer the monastery and its extensive estates. Nowadays, it is a center of Orthodox pilgrimage and is under the jurisdiction of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church. The Lavra houses the Kyiv Metropolitanate, the Theological Academy and the Seminary.

Since 1990, the monastery has been under the protection of UNESCO, and since 2008, the monastery complex is state property.

The first reactions from the head of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, Metropolitan Onuphrius of Kyiv, and other bishops of this church were that these claims to power were illegal and the monks would not leave the Lavra.

Source: According to information from;; “Vima orthodoxias” and “Romfea”

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