Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has imposed sanctions against former MP Vadym Novinskyi, Metropolitan Pavlo (Lebed), and several other clergymen of the Russian-aligned Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate, or UOC-MP.
The relevant decree was published on the presidential website on Jan. 24.
The list includes the following people:
- Vadym Novynskyi, a businessman and cleric of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church;
- Petro Lebid, Metropolitan Pavlo of Vyshgorod and Chornobyl;
- Rostyslav Shvets, the so-called “Metropolitan of Simferopol and Crimea of the Russian Orthodox Church”;
- Kostiantyn Chernyshov, the so-called “Bishop of Bakhchisarai, Vicar of the Simferopol Diocese of the Russian Orthodox Church”;
- Oleksandr Ovsiannikov, the so-called “Bishop of Dzhankoi and Rozdolne of the Russian Orthodox Church, in charge of the Dzhankoi Diocese”;
- Oleksandr Taranov, the so-called “Archbishop of Rovenkyv and Sverdlovsk of the Russian Orthodox Church”;
- Oleh Ivanov, Metropolitan of Izyum and Kupyansk of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church;
- Oleksiy Maslennikov, bishop of Romny and Buryn of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church;
- Viacheslav Opanasenko, the so-called “Bishop of Koktebel of the Russian Orthodox Church, Vicar of the Feodosia Diocese”;
- Volodymyr Udovenko, head of the Feodosia Diocese of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, aka Metropolitan Platon.
Sanctions have been introduced for five years, including freezing of assets. Monitoring of their implementation is entrusted to the secretary of Ukraine’s National Security and Defense Council (NSDC).
The decree comes into force from the day of its publication.
On Dec. 1, 2022, Ukraine’s NSDC instructed the State Service for Ethnopolitics and Freedom of Conscience to conduct an examination of the statute on the UOC’s management for the presence of a connection with the Moscow Patriarchate, as well as submitting a bill to the government stating that religious organizations “affiliated with centers of influence in Russia” cannot operate in Ukraine.
On Dec. 2, the NSDC imposed sanctions against 10 UOC-MP persons, including Metropolitan Pavlo and former Ukrainian MP Vadym Novynskyi. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy signed the document imposing sanctions.
On Dec. 11, the NSDC imposed sanctions against seven more UOC-MP persons.
Ukraine’s SBU conducted a counter-intelligence operation at the Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra monastery of the UOC MP on Nov. 22 after controversial footage of a religious service glorifying the “Russian world” appeared on social media.
In addition to the Lavra, SBU agents also searched the Koretsky Holy Trinity Monastery and the premises of the UOC’s Sarny-Polissia eparchy in Rivne Oblast.
On Nov. 12, a video of people praying for Russia in the Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra was shared on the Internet, prompting Ukrainian law enforcers to open criminal proceedings.
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.
Another UOC representative, Archimandrite Polikarp, said the priest overseeing services that day was busy and did not hear what “this group of activists was singing.” After that, the priest was banned from conducting religions services.
The SBU said that all of its actions had been carried out as part of a special operation “to counter the subversive activities of the Russian special services in Ukraine.”