Enjoying ad-free content?
Since July 1, 2024, we have disabled all ads to improve your reading experience.
This commitment costs us $10,000 a month. Your support can help us fill the gap.
Support us
Our journalism is banned in Russia. We need your help to keep providing you with the truth.

Ukraine Raids Famed Monastery Over Suspected Russia Links

Ukraine's security service

Ukraine's security service said Tuesday it had raided a historic Orthodox monastery in Kyiv over suspected links to Russian agents.

The Kremlin denounced the searches as the latest chapter in Kyiv's "war" against the Russian church.

Located south of the city center, the 11th-century Kyiv Pechersk Lavra is a UNESCO World Heritage site and seat of a branch of Ukraine's Orthodox Church that was formerly under Moscow's jurisdiction.

It cut ties with Russia soon after President Vladimir Putin invaded Ukraine.

The SBU security service said in a statement that "counter-intelligence measures" were carried out as part of work to "counter the subversive activities of the Russian security services in Ukraine."

The intention was to prevent the site from being a "center of the 'Russian world'" or used to hide "sabotage and intelligence groups" and to store weapons, the statement added.

Early Tuesday, a police car was parked outside the Lavra, its roof and glistening golden domes covered with snow, an AFP reporter saw.

Armed officers were seen carrying out ID checks and searching the bags of worshippers before letting them inside.

"Ukraine has long been at war with the Russian Orthodox Church," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters.

"We could see this as yet another link in the chain of these military actions against Russian Orthodoxy."

A spokesman for the Russian Orthodox Church denounced the searches as an "act of intimidation" against Ukrainian worshippers.

"We pray for our fellow believers... who are becoming victims of lawlessness and we call on all sympathetic people to do everything possible to stop this persecution," Vladimir Legoyda said on social media.

The SBU said in a separate statement that "security measures" were carried out Tuesday at two other monasteries and the diocese in the region of Rivne in northwest Ukraine.

Russia lost multiple Ukrainian parishes in 2019, when a historic schism fuelled by the Kremlin's land grab of Crimea and backing of a separatist insurgency in eastern Ukraine led to the creation of the Kyiv Patriarchate of the Orthodox Church.

… we have a small favor to ask. As you may have heard, The Moscow Times, an independent news source for over 30 years, has been unjustly branded as a "foreign agent" by the Russian government. This blatant attempt to silence our voice is a direct assault on the integrity of journalism and the values we hold dear.

We, the journalists of The Moscow Times, refuse to be silenced. Our commitment to providing accurate and unbiased reporting on Russia remains unshaken. But we need your help to continue our critical mission.

Your support, no matter how small, makes a world of difference. If you can, please support us monthly starting from just $2. It's quick to set up, and you can be confident that you're making a significant impact every month by supporting open, independent journalism. Thank you.

paiment methods
Not ready to support today?
Remind me later.

Read more