SBU releases intercepts of Lavra abbot Metropolitan Pavlo parroting Kremlin propaganda
Metropolitan of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate (UOC MP) (Photo:СБУ)
Ukraine’s SBU security service has published intercepted recordings of Metropolitan Pavlo, the former abbot of the Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra monastery, in which he claims that Ukraine is to blame for Russia's full-scale war because it "provoked Moscow."
In another comment, the metropolitan, who belongs to the Russian-led Ukrainian Orthodox Church, Moscow Patriarchate, calls the invasion "a war between America and Russia to the last Ukrainian" — a common Kremlin propaganda trope.
Law enforcement officers also found that the abbot repeatedly insulted the religious feelings of Ukrainians in his public speeches, humiliated the views of believers of other faiths, and fostered hostile attitudes toward them.
"The law and the responsibility for its violation are the same for everyone, and a cassock is not always a guarantee of pure intention," SBU chief Vasyl Malyuk said.
“Today, the enemy is trying to use the church environment to peddle its propaganda and split Ukrainian society.”
Investigators have pressed charges against Metropolitan Pavlo and served him with a notice of suspicion under two articles — incitement to religious hatred and justification and denial of Russia's war against Ukraine, the Security Service of Ukraine confirmed in a Telegram post on April 1.
The SBU also confirmed that it had searched his house, and published photos. Earlier, the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, Moscow Patriarchate said that the abbot had also been summoned for questioning.
Metropolitan Pavlo and several representatives of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, Moscow Patriarchate have been under sanctions since January.
The Russian-led church was supposed to vacate Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra on March 29 after the State Reserve terminated its 2013 lease agreement. However, as of March 30, its priests continued to hold services in the Lavra.
A Culture Ministry commission has been denied entry to the Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra for two straight days, and the reserve has filed a complaint with police.
Earlier, Ukraine’s State Audit Service conducted an audit and found that state-owned cultural heritage sites and 36 constructions within the territory of the Lavra had been illegally transferred to private use.
Representatives of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, Moscow Patriarchate, led by Metropolitan Pavlo, accused Ukrainian authorities and Ministry of Culture officials of issuing an “ultimatum” with demands that they argue have no legal basis. The Russian-led church’s Synod also stated its intention to “protect” the Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra “by all lawful means.”
Despite claims that its representatives do not intend to leave the holy site, the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, Moscow Patriarchate was seen removing property from the Lavra.
The church has also filed a lawsuit against the Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra reserve.
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