“Pasha Mercedes”. This is what they call Metropolitan Pavlo Lebid of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate in Kiev, arrested on charges of espionage by the Ukrainian SBU, the security services of President Volodymyr Zelensky.
Pavlo Lebid, vicar of the Kiev cave monastery since 1994 and former deputy of the pro-Russian Party of Regions. Lebid, alias «Pasha Mercedes» — was nicknamed thus by his detractors because he only moves in luxury cars — is a controversial character. Against Ukrainian operations in Donbass since 2014, opponent of the Euromaidan movement and the students who took part in it, sworn enemy of Kyiv mayor Vitaly Klitschko andand journalists in general (he attacked them several times, breaking their limbs and hurling anathemas of all kinds), in 2021 by his own admission he failed to turn over to the police a serial killer who had killed 52 people, ready to turn himself in to the police after confessing. In 2019, above all, Lebid publicly stated that Crimea is not part of Ukraine.
The SBU says it has gathered solid evidence regarding the involvement of the metropolitan. In particular, it was established as in his public speeches has repeatedly offended the religious feelings of Ukrainians, humiliated the views of believers of other faiths and tried to create hostile attitudes towards them, as well as made statements justifying or denying Russia’s actions. The SBU have also published fragments of the metropolitan’s personal conversations which would confirm the allegations made against him. In one of the reported conversations he would rejoice at the occupation of Kherson, defining that of the Russian Federation “a war between America and Russia down to the last Ukrainian”.
It is easy to understand why “Pasha Mercedes” is currently not enjoying much sympathy in Ukraine, despite the fact that today he reverses his support for Moscow and corrects his course by saying in a roundabout way that he has always been against the invasion of Ukraine. It is equally easy to understand why today the irony about Pavel has been unleashed on social networks for the scarf he wore at the time of his arrest: «Nothing strange, just Pasha Mercedes with a Louis Vuitton scarf. It is not known how much such a clothing accessory costs, but the approximate rates of the brand are known,” the independent Belarusian news site comments on Twitter Nexta which has published photos and videos of the metropolitan wearing a scarf from the famous French brand around his neck as he speaks to the faithful and journalists before being taken by agents of the Ukrainian services before the magistrate for questioning. “This clown will finally end up in jail,” writes a pro-Ukrainian commentator on Twitter. Always Nexta has also published the images taken inside Lebid’s home, a place where sobriety is anything but familiar.