The religious war in Ukraine

The Ukrainian justice system issued a house arrest order for 60 days against the abbot of the kyiv Monastery of the Caves, Pavlo Lebid, whom the Prosecutor’s Office is investigating for justifying the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

The court order was issued after the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) searched the home of the Orthodox leader and made public intercepted conversations in which Pavlo celebrates the Russian occupation. from the Ukrainian city of Kherson and talks about the existence of American biological “laboratories” in Ukraine.

In the broadcast recordings, the religious also refers in a derogatory way to the volunteers of the Territorial Defense of Ukraine to whom the State gave weapons to defend the country from invasion.

Pavlo belongs to the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate, a kind of branch of the Russian Orthodox Church in Ukraine. The latter broke relations with its mother church last May due to the support of the Russian patriarch, Kirill, for the Kremlin’s aggression against Ukraine.

Some consider that the local Orthodox break with Moscow was only cosmetic and they demand that the hierarchy integrate into the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, if they really have ceased to have ties with Moscow.

The Ukrainian Orthodox Church was established in 2018 and recognized a year later by the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople as the autocephalous national church of Ukraine.

The house arrest order against Pavlo comes three days after the deadline given by the Ukrainian government to the religious of the Kiev Monastery of the Caves to leave this spiritual center founded in the 11th century, which is of capital importance in the Orthodox traditions of Russia and Ukraine.

Abbot Pavlo and the other monks have rejected the eviction in court and remain in the monastery in defiance of the government order, whom they accuse of religious persecution. The Ukrainian authorities consider them a focus of Russian influence in the country.

The kyiv authorities have initiated 61 proceedings against clergymen of that branch of the church since the beginning of the war for collaboration with the enemy. Seven were convicted and two of them were sent to Russia in a prisoner exchange.

Pavlo was a kyiv city councilor from 2008 to 2014 for the Party of Regions, a pro-Russian party that was banned in Ukraine. His branch of the church insists that he denounced the Russian invasion and is loyal to Ukraine, as well as having declared independence from Moscow. The Ukrainian authorities want to evict them from the monastery – it belongs to the State – arguing that the monks made unauthorized modifications to the historic building. These defend themselves with the argument that this is a mere excuse for political persecution.

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