Kiev, July 7, 2023
Although faithful Orthodox Christians in Kiev managed to protect the Kiev Caves Lavra from the state’s attempts to evict the monks and the Church from several buildings on Tuesday, the relevant state commission returned yesterday, backed by armed police officers.
A number of police officers appeared at the monastery at 6:00 AM in order to block the faithful from getting to and protecting the buildings that the commission planned to seal up.
In the end, five buildings were broken into and sealed, including the residence of His Beatitude Metropolitan Onuphry of Kiev and All Ukraine, the primate of those who confess the Orthodox faith in Ukraine, reports the UOC’s Information-Education Department.
The police even forcibly dragged women away from one of the buildings so the state commission could close it.
The faithful who had come for services were not allowed to enter the territory of the monastery, in violation of Ukrainian law, the Church reports, and priests had to commune the faithful through a locked gate.
The Union of Orthodox Journalists published a video showing that force was used against some of the faithful:
The UOC’s Legal Department again noted that on July 19, 2013, the Church signed an agreement for the usage of the Lower Lavra that remains valid. The matter is currently being considered in the courts, and thus the state has no legal basis for breaking into, damaging, and sealing up buildings at this time.
His Eminence Metropolitan Anthony of Boryspil, Chancellor of the UOC, characterized the state’s actions as “war against its own people.” He also noted that the state severely restricted the monastery schedule beginning yesterday, allowing parishioners to visit only after 11 AM.
A video from the UOC shows various scenes from yesterday:
The Russian Orthodox Church’s Synodal Department for Relations of the Church with Society and the Media issued a statement yesterday saying that the Ukrainian state’s persecution of the Church and the Lavra in particular are an attempt “to liquidate the Ukrainian Orthodox Church,” motivated by false political pretexts.
“The persecution of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church has the ultimate goal of rewriting the history of the Ukrainian people, depriving the inhabitants of Ukraine of the identity associated with the Baptism of St. Vladimir, which is common for all the peoples of historical Rus’,” the department states. “The Ukrainian authorities view the Ukrainian Orthodox Church as an enemy, while supporting the schismatic community created by the state and encouraging the latter to acts of violence.”
The department also calls on international human rights organizations to do more to protect the persecuted Ukrainian Orthodox Church.