“Nothing out of the ordinary, just ‘Pasha Mercedes’ with a Louis Vuitton scarf.” With these words the Belarusian independent news site https://twitter.com/nexta_tv/status/1642094603540000768 comments ironically on a photo that portrays the metropolitan and vicar of the Kiev “Pershersk Lavra” Pavel monastery, recipient of the masthead’s ferocious irony due to his taste for luxury. The image captures the moment in which the metropolitan spoke to the faithful and journalists before being taken by agents of the Ukrainian services before the magistrate for questioning. He himself, in fact, reported that this morning he received a search warrant from the Ukrainian authorities.
And he later announced that he had been placed under house arrest, although at the moment the news has not yet had official confirmation. “Now my house will be searched,” he said. Adding that he is accused of “collaboration with Russia and interreligious incitement”, as he allegedly “cursed President Zelensky” for his quoting of verses from the Gospel. The press service of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church loyal to Moscow earlier confirmed that the metropolitan was summoned for questioning.
The Kiev Prosecutor’s Office on Telegram, quoted by UNIAN, reserved very harsh words for the metropolitan, according to them guilty of having “offended the religious sentiments of the Ukrainians” and of having “justified the aggression of the Russian Federation against Ukraine”. The suspicion, in particular, concerns what they define as the “violation of the equality of citizens according to their race, nationality, regional affiliation, religious beliefs, and the justification-denial of the armed aggression of the Russian Federation against Ukraine and glorification of its participants.
“According to the investigation, the cleric in his speeches repeatedly insulted the religious feelings of Ukrainians, belittled the opinions of believers of other faiths and tried to create hostile attitudes towards them,” concludes the indictment. For the moment Pavel has rejected the accusations of the Ukrainian services (SBU), reiterating that he is “against the aggression” but without explicitly mentioning Russia: “I have done nothing to be accused. This is a political case. I have never been on the side of aggression. I am against aggression. And now I’m in Ukraine. This is my land.”
The rift between the Russian Church and Ukrainian Orthodoxy
Today is a new round of conflict around the Pechersk Lavra in Kiev. Ukrainian Orthodoxy has cut ties with Moscow and declared its full independence from the Russian Church. March 29 was supposed to be the last day for clergy of the pro-Russian Ukrainian Orthodox Church to leave the historic cave monastery complex. The Kiev Pechersk Lavra is home to a branch of Orthodox Christianity in Ukraine that is traditionally loyal to Patriarch Kirill, the leader of the Russian church. He has proved to be a close ally of President Vladimir Putin and is accused of supporting war against Ukraine. For this reason the monks have been ordered to leave the monastery, while for days the faithful of the Russian rite have been stationed in front of the religious building. Meanwhile, the Ministry of Culture in Kiev has filed a lawsuit against the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate (UOC-MP) for not allowing the ministerial commission to take possession of the Monastery of the Caves in the capital.
Cover photo: NEXTA on Twitter
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