Ukraine raids 1,000 year old Russia-backed Kyiv monastery | Russia-Ukraine war News

The SBU intelligence service said the raid was to investigate suspected Russian weapons and bomb attacks.

Ukraine’s security services and police raided a 1,000-year-old Orthodox monastery in Kiev to counter what they suspected was a coup by Russian special services.

The sprawling Kyiv Pechersk Lavra complex – or Kyiv Monastery of the Caves – is a Ukrainian cultural treasure, with its cathedral, The temple and other buildings are a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Overlooking the right bank of the Dnieper River, it falls under the Russian-backed wing of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church and Moscow’s Eastern Dominion.

Ukraine’s Intelligence and Counter-Terrorism Service said the search was part of a systematic operation to counter the subversive activities of Russian special services in Ukraine.

The intelligence service, known in Ukrainian as the SBU for its acronym, said in a statement that the operation was aimed at preventing the monastery from being used as the center of the Russian world and to check suspicions about its use. subversives and scout groups; Place of refuge for foreign nationals [and] Arms storage.” Another site is also being sought in the Rivne region, 240 kilometers (150 miles) west of the capital, it said.

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A group of Orthodox priests in black robes and long gray beards stand outside the Kyiv Pechersk Lavra monastery.  Ukrainian intelligence agents and police are also pictured, with a man in fatigues standing with his back to the camera.
Orthodox priests are shown talking to Ukrainian law enforcement officials. A recent liturgy, where a Christian priest preached in favor of Russia, was raided. [Press Service of the State Security Service of Ukraine via Reuters]

The concept of “Russian world” is the language of Russia. It is at the center of President Vladimir Putin’s new foreign policy aimed at protecting culture and religion. Conservative ideologues used it to justify foreign intervention.

The SBU did not elaborate on the outcome of the operation.

The war was deeply divisive.

In Russia, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov accused Ukrainian authorities of “waging war against the Russian Orthodox Church.”

He described the search as “another link in the chain of violent actions against Russian Orthodoxy.”

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Moscow-based church authorities have repeatedly expressed support for the Kremlin’s invasion of Ukraine. Patriarch Kirill of Moscow, who heads the Russian Orthodox Church, described the war as a “metaphysical battle” between Moscow and the West. On Tuesday, he condemned the search as a “threat”.

The raid will further strain the strained relationship between Russian and Ukrainian Orthodox Christians.

“Like many persecutions of believers in Ukraine since 2014, “It is almost certainly an act of intimidation to keep believers from being aware of themselves by the international human rights community,” said Vladimir Maligoda, a spokesman for the Russian Orthodox Church.

The SBU operative filmed a Ukrainian Orthodox priest speaking about Russia’s “awakening” during a Nov. 12 service at the Pechersk Lavra complex.

“We are looking for details of the incident that took place in one of the churches of Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra, which sang songs of praise to the Russian world,” the SBU said.

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Aerial view of Kyiv Pechersk Lavra covered in mist with golden domes
The thousand-year-old Kyiv Pechersk Lavra is one of the most famous places in the Ukrainian capital and a World Heritage Site. [File: Evgeniy Maloletka/AP Photo]

Last Friday, the SBU charged a senior clergyman from the West Vinnytsia region with trying to distribute leaflets under the pretext of Russia’s February 24 invasion of Ukraine.

in May, The Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Patriarchate of Moscow has ended its relationship with the Russian Church by endorsing the so-called Moscow Special Operation.

Ukraine says the full-scale invasion is a war of aggression without provocation.

A 2020 survey by the Kyiv-based Razumkov Center found that 34 percent of Ukrainians identified as members of the mainline Orthodox Church, while 14 percent were members of the Moscow Patriarchate Church of Ukraine.

In 2019, Ukraine received permission from the spiritual leader of the world’s Orthodox Christians to form an independent church from Moscow, ending centuries of religious ties between the two countries.


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