Rivne, Rivne Province, Ukraine, July 18, 2023
The Rivne Diocese of the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church published an appeal yesterday from its clergy and monastics to the state authorities and the people in defense of the abbot of the persecuted Kiev Caves Lavra.
His Eminence Metropolitan Pavel of Vyshgorod and Chernobyl, who oversaw the complete revival of the sacred site during his 30 years at the head of the monastery, was confined to house arrest in a village outside Kiev for several months, but on Friday he was moved to a pre-trial detention center. Like other hierarchs, he is being held on charges of inciting religious enmity and supporting the war, both of which he fervently denies.
“We, the clergy and monastics of the Rivne diocese, were concerned and outraged by the events that unfolded in the Solomensky Court of Kiev on July 14, 2023, where the trial of the hierarch of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, Metropolitan Pavel, took place,” the diocesan appeal states.
The diocese continues:
We are convinced that the court’s decision is complete lawlessness under the guise of justice. Without any grounds, for far-fetched reasons, because the materials of the criminal proceedings are fictional and are based solely on the telephone conversations of Metropolitan Pavel, which were recorded without the necessary permission—a warrant, the Orthodox hierarch is imprisoned and an unrealistic bail of $900,000 (33 million hryvnia) has been set. Even murderers, corrupt officials and black transplantologists in Ukraine are given much smaller bails.
We are well aware that the imprisonment of Metropolitan Pavel, the forceful raider seizures of the churches of our Church, and the total information pressure have common roots—this is a political order against our Ukrainian Orthodox Church, its hierarchs, clergy, and believers, which is aimed at destroying our Church, discriminating against its faithful and clergy, and psychologically oppressing believers.
Metropolitan Pavel’s imprisonment is torture, because Vladyka requires insulin. European conventions on human rights and international UN conventions equate the imprisonment of insulin-dependent people with torture. Therefore, we demand an end to the abuse of the hierarch of our Church, who has done very much for the independent state of Ukraine and its people, to preserve the country’s cultural heritage.
Metropolitan Pavel is our fellow countryman, a native of the Rivne region. As citizens of Ukraine, we stand up for him and express our full support for him.
Metropolitan Pavel has great authority in the Rivne region as a man who has done very much for this land, his native region, and his village.
The Rivne Diocese, clergy, and diocesan council appeal to the president and heads of law enforcement agencies with a demand to stop the persecution of the UOC, the mockery of hierarchs, clergy, and believers of the UOC, to be impartial and objective, not to violate the constitutional rights of millions of believers in Ukraine, and to comply with the law that is written for every citizen of Ukraine.