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Eviction looms in Kyiv for Orthodox monks from Russian-linked Church

#Eviction #looms #Kyiv #Orthodox #monks #Russianlinked #Church

Orthodox monks from Kyiv’s 11th-century Pechersk Lavra monastery are fighting eviction by the Ukrainian government because of their church’s links with Russia.

The head of the monastery, Pavlo Lebid, vowed the “monks have no intention of moving”, but AFP reporters saw a large number of cars and vans drive out of the religious community on Tuesday.

A black-clad monk who gave his name as Avel said that bulky items were being moved in case “something inexplicable happens” and the eviction goes ahead.

“In that case we are ready. That’s why the most heavy stuff is being moved out,” he said. “We are leaving most of the stuff in the monastery. We remain ourselves. And it goes without saying that we will hold on.

“Many of the fathers, the monks, simply don’t have anywhere except the Lavra, it’s our home. And for us this decision was a bolt from the blue.”

The ancient golden-domed religious complex overlooking the Dnipro River is the country’s most significant Orthodox monastery, with a population of monks who were until recently under Moscow’s jurisdiction.

However their branch of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church announced a rupture of ties with the Russian Orthodox Church after its leader, Patriarch Kirill, backed Moscow’s invasion last year.

The Kyiv government does not believe that the Church has fully ended dependence on the Moscow Patriarchate.

– Security service raids –

The Pechersk monastery and other Church premises were raided last year by security services over suspected links to Russian agents.

Last Friday, Ukraine’s Culture Minister Oleksandr Tkachenko announced the termination of the lease that allowed the church to occupy part of the monastery free of charge. 

The deadline according to Ukrainian media is March 29.

President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov on Monday condemned what he called “outrageous decisions” and “an absolutely unprecedented attitude” towards the community.

Patriarch Kirill, leader of the Orthodox Church loyal to Moscow, has appealed to religious and international leaders including UN chief Antonio Guterres, expressing “deep concern” at what he said was an illegal ultimatum.

Ukraine has recently established its own Orthodox Church of Ukraine, which in January held a Christmas service in the Pechersk monastery. The Moscow Patriarchate does not recognise the new Church.

On Tuesday, several passers-by said they backed the monks’ eviction.

“We have our own church, the Kyiv one and a Ukrainian Patriarchate. There should be nothing in common (with Russia),” said 37-year-old Artem.

“If they are pro-Moscow, they’re not welcome here,” added another man, Igor.

But parishioner Marina, 53, vowed to defend the monks.

“We must stick up for our clergy, for our monks,” she said. “We are ready to go and protect them to the end, whatever it costs.”

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#Eviction #looms #Kyiv #Orthodox #monks #Russianlinked #Church

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