Ukraine wants Moscow Patriarchate to vacate Lavra by March 29, says culture minister

15 March, 11:44 AM
Kyiv-Pechersk monastery (Photo:Maxym Marusenko/NurPhoto via Reuters)

Kyiv-Pechersk monastery (Photo:Maxym Marusenko/NurPhoto via Reuters)

Ukraine wants the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (Moscow Patriarchate) leadership to vacate the Kyiv-Pechersk monastery, Culture Minister Oleksandr Tkachenko said on national television on March 14.

"No one is raising the question of evicting the monks," the minister said.

“We are talking about the return of property owned by the state, both movable and immovable.

“If anyone has to leave... in my opinion, it is first of all the leaders who have been conducting illegal construction on the territory of the UNESCO site for many years — Metropolitans Pavlo, Antoniy, the Synodal Administration of the UOC-MP.

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“And then we can talk about the rest.”

When asked if the monks that currently live there will have to leave as well, Tkachenko said, "they always have a choice," likely referring to their choice of staying with the Moscow Patriarchate or transitioning to the Orthodox Church of Ukraine.

"I am sure that the situation will change radically when these citizens leave the territory of the Lavra," Tkachenko said about UOC-MP Metropolitan Pavlo’s comments that there is no plan to vacate.

“I think that the joint work of specialists and law enforcement officers will encourage them to make a decision.”

The Culture Minister announced on March 10 that the UOC-MP must vacate the premises it rents at the Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra monastery by March 29. In response, the UOC-MP said that Ministry of Culture officials had issued an "ultimatum" and that their demands had no legal basis.

During investigations, Ukraine’s State Audit Service discovered an illegal transfer of cultural heritage sites and 36 illegal new buildings, reported Ukrainian news website

Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra Reserve terminated its agreement with the UOC-MP on the lease of the Assumption Cathedral and the Refectory Church on the territory of the Upper Lavra on Jan. 1.

For the first time in history, Orthodox Church of Ukraine head Metropolitan Epiphanius held Christmas services at the site on Jan. 7, 2023.

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