Pochaev, November 28, 2018
Another blow has been struck against the Holy Dormition-Pochaev Lavra, as the Ukrainian Cabinet of Ministers has resolved to cancel the 2003 decision by which the buildings of the Lavra were moved from the Kremenets-Pochaev State Historical-Architectural Reserve to the free usage of the monastic brethren.
The decision was made during a government meeting today, reports Interfax-Ukraine.
In particular, the Cabinet of Ministers canceled ordinance No. 438 “On the Exclusion of the Buildings of the Holy Dormition-Pochaev Lavra from the Kremenets-Pochaev State Historical-Architectural Reserve,” dated July 17, 2003, which had transferred the Dormition Cathedral, Holy Trinity Cathedral, monastic cells, the bishop’s house, the bell tower, and the gates from the reserve-museum to the monastery.
Several attempts to take the buildings away and turn the monastery into a museum have been made in the past. The Pochaev Reserve recently attempted to register the buildings to itself, though this failed given that the 2003 agreement had already transferred the buildings to the monastery. However, having been refused registration, the Ministry of Culture then appealed to the Prosecutor’s Office to check the transfer of the buildings to the Lavra for free use. The Prosecutor’s Office then opened two criminal cases: one against the original registrar from 2003, and another against the registrar who recently refused to re-register the monastery’s buildings to the museum.
The Ministry of Culture’s appeal was satisfied by the Ministry of Justice on November 23, with the registration of the buildings to the monastery being canceled.
The Lavra brethren released a message comparing the government’s persecution of them to the tactics of the communist government of the 20th century.
As the statement notes, besides the churches, the buildings in question are home to more than 200 monks and 50 novices.
Following the cancelation of the registration, the head of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church’s Legal Department, Archpriest Alexander Bakhov, had stated that the brothers could continue to use the buildings, noting that the 2003 agreement was still in force.
There has been no official response yet either from the Pochaev Lavra or the Ukrainian Orthodox Church as of the time of publication.
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