Ukraine’s Top Security Agency Accuses Leading Orthodox Priest of Justifying Russia’s Aggression
KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — In a bitter dispute over a famed Orthodox monastery, Ukraine’s top security agency notified a leading Orthodox priest there on Saturday that he was suspected of justifying Russia’s aggression, a criminal offense.
Monastery Abbot Resists Authorities’ Order to Vacate Complex
Metropolitan Pavel, the abbot of the Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra monastery, Ukraine’s most revered Orthodox site, has resisted the authorities’ order to vacate the complex. Earlier in the week, he cursed Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, threatening him with damnation.
Accusations Politically Driven, Says Metropolitan Pavel
During a court hearing in the Ukrainian capital, the metropolitan rejected the claim by the Security Service of Ukraine, known as the SBU, that he condoned Russia’s invasion. Pavel described the accusations against him as politically driven.
Monks Belonging to Ukrainian Orthodox Church Allegedly Have Links to Russia
The monks in the monastery belong to the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, which has been accused of having links to Russia. The dispute surrounding the property, also known as the Monastery of the Caves, is part of a wider religious conflict that has unfolded in parallel with the war.
Ukrainian Government Cracks Down on Ukrainian Orthodox Church
The Ukrainian government has cracked down on the Ukrainian Orthodox Church over its historic ties to the Russian Orthodox Church, whose leader, Patriarch Kirill, has supported Russian President Vladimir Putin in the invasion of Ukraine. The church declared its independence from Moscow.
Monks in Monastery Refuse to Leave
The Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra monastery is owned by the Ukrainian government, and the agency overseeing it notified the monks that it was terminating the lease and they had until Wednesday to leave. Metropolitan Pavel told worshippers Wednesday that the monks would not leave pending the outcome of a lawsuit the UOC filed in a Kyiv court to stop the eviction.
Other News on Ukrainian Conflict
In other news Saturday, Zelenskyy said he spoke to French President Emmanuel Macron to brief him on the battlefield situation and discuss defense cooperation. While Ukraine is preparing for a counteroffensive expected later this spring, Russian forces have kept pressing their effort to capture the city of Bakhmut. The Ukrainian stronghold in the Donbas region in Ukraine’s east has been the focus of a ferocious battle that has dragged on for eight months.
Russian Military’s Offense in Ukraine Has Failed
Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said during a Saturday visit to the military headquarters overseeing the action in Ukraine that Russia’s defense industries have boosted production of ammunition “by several times.” The U.K. Defense Ministry said in its latest analysis Saturday that the Russian offensive personally overseen by Gen. Valery Gerasimov, the chief of the General Staff of the Russian military, has fizzled. Putin put Gerasimov in charge of overseeing what Moscow refers to as its “special military operation” in Ukraine.
Russia’s Policy Called “Peaceful and Open” as Foreign Office Mocks Moscow’s New Edition of Foreign Policy Doctrine
The U.K. Foreign and Commonwealth Office, meanwhile, mocked a new edition of Moscow’s foreign policy doctrine published Friday that described the Russian policy as “peaceful, open, predictable, consistent, pragmatic and based on respect for universally recognized principles and norms of international law.”
The ongoing conflict in Ukraine involving the Ukrainian Orthodox Church and its ties to Russia continues to be a source of tension. Despite government crackdowns, the monks in the Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra monastery have refused to leave, leading to accusations of justifying Russia’s aggression. Meanwhile, the Russian military’s offense in Ukraine has failed, and the U.K. Foreign and Commonwealth Office has mocked Moscow’s new edition of its foreign policy doctrine. The conflict shows no signs of abating.
Follow AP’s coverage of the war in Ukraine at https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine