Moscow Patriarchate priest suspected of pedophilia ordained as bishop

4 December 2022, 06:53 PM
Secretary of the Chernivtsi-Bukovyna Eparchy Nikita Storozhu became involved in a scandal with a minor (Photo:LB)

Secretary of the Chernivtsi-Bukovyna Eparchy Nikita Storozhu became involved in a scandal with a minor (Photo:LB)

The Ukrainian Orthodox Church–Moscow Patriarchate has ordained the secretary of the Chernivtsi-Bukovyna Eparchy, Nikita Storozhuk, as a bishop, according to the diocese’s live broadcast on Facebook on Dec. 4.

Last week, this priest was found together with a naked underage boy during a raid by Ukraine’s SBU security service.

The ordination was held at the St. Panteleimon Cathedral in Kyiv, and performed by UOC-MP Primate Metropolitan Onufriy. He was assisted by Metropolitan Meletiy of Chernivtsi and Bukovyna.

Video of day

Also, judging by the broadcast, the event was attended by the abbot of the Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra monastery, Petro Lebid, against whom sanctions were imposed by the National Security and Defense Council two days prior.

Chernivtsi-Bukovyna Eparchy/Facebook
Photo: Chernivtsi-Bukovyna Eparchy/Facebook

Kremlin manuals, child pornography, a priest in underwear: What the SBU found during raids on the UOC diocese in Bukovyna

On Nov. 25, the SBU conducted searches at the Chernivtsi-Bukovyna Eparchy of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church–Moscow Patriarchate. Russian propaganda literature and several Russian passports were seized.

Specifically, SBU agents seized a number of Kremlin propaganda manuals and Russian certificates and correspondence of the diocese leaders with their Moscow-based supervisors. Representatives of the Russian Orthodox Church allegedly demanded that the priests of the UOC–MP deny Russia's armed aggression, talk about the "oppression of the Moscow church" and other Russian propaganda narratives.

The SBU has charged the diocese’s clergy with high treason.

In addition, the SBU found a Russian passport belonging to Chernivtsi and Bukovyna Eparchy head Metropolitan Meletiy. He is believed to have fled to Moldova following the raids.

Additionally, according to Ukrainian news outlet, the secretary of the diocese was found in bed with a boy from the local choir. The journalists also published a photo showing Archimandrite Nikita standing next to a boy clad in nothing but underwear. According to BBC Ukraine, the boy is 17 years old.

Nikita has denied the SBU’s accusations and claims that during the searches, SBU officers allegedly forced him to undress and then took the pictures.

"At 7 a.m., we were woken up, the door was broken down, we were taken out of our rooms, everyone who was in the diocese was put against the wall, separated and, as it has turned out, photographed..." Nikita said in a video message.

"And then all sorts of obscene additions followed – you probably read all this. God is the judge of all those who wrote it, if they have evidence – let them prove it."

He claimed that the state services of Ukraine are "undemocratic and use despotic methods."

According to the priest, the raid lasted for 12 hours.

In addition, according to, during the raid, a laptop with pornographic materials involving minors was found. According to preliminary data, these materials were not downloaded from the Internet, but were filmed on a video camera.

The Chernivtsi-Bukovyna Eparchy had been led by the incumbent head of the UOC–MP, Onufriy, for over 20 years. He held the post of Bishop of Chernivtsi and Bukovyna until 2014, when he was elected Metropolitan of Kyiv and All Ukraine — the head of the UOC (MP).

The Moscow Church in Ukraine: What is known about raids on the UOC (MP)

In recent weeks, the SBU has regularly been conducting searches at UOC–MP institutions. On Nov. 22, the SBU reported that it had conducted a counter-intelligence operation at the Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra monastery, after controversial footage of a religious service glorifying the “Russian world” appeared on social media.

The Security Service explained that the measures had been taken as part of a systematic effort "to counter subversive activities of Russian special services in Ukraine."

In addition, the SBU conducted searches in the premises and monastery of the UOC-MP in Rivne Oblast.

SBU are said to have seized pro-Russian literature, millions in cash in different currencies, including Russian rubles, and discovered "suspicious" Russian citizens during the raids.

Since then, SBU agents have visited several locations linked to the UOC-MP in different regions of Ukraine. According to the agency’s press service, more than 350 church buildings and 850 people have been inspected.

On Dec. 1, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said that following a meeting of the National Security and Defense Council, a bill to ban the activities of religious organizations associated with Russia would be submitted to the Rada.

On Dec. 2, Zelenskyy also put into effect an NSDC decision on personal sanctions against representatives of religious organizations affiliated with centers of influence in Russia. These “church sanctions” applied to ten people, including former MP and UOC-MP cleric Vadym Novynskyi, the ab-bot of the Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra, Petro Lebid, and the metropolitans and bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church in occupied Crimea.

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Novynskyi stated that he is going to appeal the sanctions against him in court.

Have they renounced Moscow? What happened to the UOC–MP after the outbreak of full-scale war

On May 28, the UOC-MP convened a council in Kyiv after the beginning of the full-scale Russian war against Ukraine. This council stated that it condemns the war and expressed disagreement with the position of Russian Orthodox Church head, Vladimir Gundyayev, who has made statements in support of the war against Ukraine. In addition, the UOC-MP announced that it would be seeking "full autonomy and independence.”

In response, hundreds of priests belonging to the UOC-MP demanded that Gundyayev be put on trial due to his position on Ukraine. In April, the clergy collected more than 400 signatures for this appeal.

At the same time, the Holy Synod of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine (OCU) called on the bishops, clergy, monasteries and religious communities of the UOC–MP to join the OCU. Dozens of UOC-MP parishes have already done so.

However, following this declaration of “independence” from the Russian church, the UOC-MP said that in order to resume dialogue with the OCU, they want representatives of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine to "stop the seizure of churches and forced transfers of parishes." In addition, the OCU would be required to "realize that their canonical status is actually non-autocephalous,” despite gaining the status from the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople – which according to Orthodox law is a binding recognition.

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