Ukraine’s national security council sanctions seven more Moscow Patriarchate priests
In recent weeks, a number of UOC MP churches were searched (Photo:SBU)
Ukraine’s National Security and Defense Council has sanctioned seven more priests from the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, Moscow Patriarchate – the Ukrainian branch of the Kremlin-allied Russian Orthodox Church.
The decree sanctioning the priests was signed by President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and published by the press office on Dec. 11.
The decree imposes sanctions for five years on:
- Andriy Kovalenko, Metropolitan Luka of Zaporizhzhia and Melitopol;
- Vasyl Povorozniuk, Metropolitan of Luhansk and Alchevsk;
- Oleksandr Prokopenko, a superior of the Monastery of the Saint Sava in Melitopol;
- Oleksandr Fedorov, a superior of the Holy Dormition Cathedral in Kherson;
- Ivan Pakanych, Metropolitan Antonii of Boryspil and Brovary and the so-called administrator of the Orthodox Moscow Church in Ukraine;
- Valentyn Yehorenko, Metropolitan Meletii of Chernivtsi and Bukovyna, the head of the external church relations department;
- Viktor Shinkarev, Vicar of the Gorlsvka diocese, Archbishop of Constantine Paisiy.
On Dec. 1, the National Security and Defense Council charged the State Service of Ukraine for Ethnopolitics and Freedom of Conscience to examine the Statute on the Administration of Ukrainian Orthodox Church in regard to its connections with the Moscow Patriarchate, as well as to prepare a draft law for the government to consider if religious organizations can operate in Ukraine in case "they are affiliated with centers of Russian influence."
On Dec. 2, the National Security and Defense Council proposed and Zelenskyy signed the decree that imposed sanctions on 10 Orthodox priests, including Pavlo Lebid, head of the Kyiv Pechersk Lavra, and Vadym Novynsky, an ex-MP and sponsor of the Moscow-backed church.
On Nov. 22, Ukraine’s SBU security service carried out checks at the Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra monastery after controversial footage of a religious service glorifying the "Russian world” appeared on social media. Criminal proceedings were initiated following the checks.
On Nov. 15, the head of the Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra, Metropolitan Pavlo, admitted that while praying in the church, those present were singing a song about Russia, but he claimed it wasn't connected to the church’s liturgical services. Archimandrite Polikarp said that the priest overseeing services that day was busy and did not hear what "this group of activists was singing."
The SBU said its series of inspections of Moscow Patriarchate Orthodox monasteries were being conducted across the country to counter suspected "subversive activities by Russian special services in Ukraine."
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