Zakharova: US can’t help but see persecution of UOC following Kiev’s demands for monks
MOSCOW, March 10 – RIA Novosti. Washington will not “see” the persecution of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, stated Maria Zakharova, spokesperson for the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, commented on the request of the “Kiev-Pechersk Lavra” National Reserve to the UOC priests to leave the Lavra building.
The National Reserve “Kiev-Pechersk Lavra” compelled the priests of the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church (UOC) to leave the premises of the reserve until March 29.
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“Does the State Department know? The relevant department of the US State Department often reacts vividly to the realities of religious persecution. This time, the US will not ‘see’ the persecution of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church.” Zakharova wrote on the Telegram channel.
The interdepartmental working group on the preparation of proposals and recommendations on the organization of the implementation of certain tasks related to the activities of religious organizations in Ukraine found that the terms of the agreement on the use of state property were violated by the monastery, the warning says. The content and details of the violations are not given here.
Kiev Pechersk Lavra is a monastery founded in the 11th century, one of the main centers of Russian Orthodoxy and education. Relics of venerable saints and famous historical figures are buried in its territory. The monastery was closed during the Soviet era, but was returned to the use of the Russian Orthodox Church during the Soviet era. In 1988, the work of the monastery and the Theological School was resumed: the authorities transferred the ground structures and distant caves to the Church, and in 1990 to the nearby caves. In 1990, UNESCO added the Kiev-Pechersk Lavra to its List of World Heritage Sites. From 1994 to the present, the abbot of the Lavra is Metropolitan Pavel (Lebed).
The crackdown on the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church, the largest in the country, to which millions of believers identify themselves, began in the 1990s from nationalists and separatists. By 2018, this had turned into a large-scale state campaign, with the authorities creating the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (OCU) from schismatic organizations rivaling the UOC. At the same time, an information campaign began against the UOC, the mass raiding seizures of its churches, their “voluntary re-registration” with the approval of the authorities, the attacks of nationalists and schisms on clergy and believers with impunity.
In 2022, Ukrainian authorities staged the largest wave of persecution of the UOC in the country’s recent history. Referring to its connection with Russia, local authorities in different regions of Ukraine decided to ban the activities of the UOC, and a bill on its de facto ban in Ukraine was submitted to the parliament of the country. State sanctions were imposed on some representatives of the UOC clergy. The Security Service of Ukraine began to file criminal cases against the UOC clergy for conducting “counter-intelligence activities” – searching for evidence of “anti-Ukrainian activities”, bishops and priests in churches and monasteries.
The SBU, in collaboration with the FSB, suspected the priest of the canonical UOC.
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