Kiev, February 9, 2024
In another move against Ukrainian Orthodox Church, the Kiev City Council voted yesterday to give the land plots on which the Holy Dormition-Kiev Caves Lavra to the state-run National Preserve for use.
The Preserve’s press service called the 70-0 vote an “historic” and “fateful” decision, that will, in its words, “allow the Lavra to rid itself of the presence of the ‘Russian world’ forever with its narratives aimed at destroying Ukrainian spirituality and culture.”
Recall that the Lavra has been state owned since the times of Soviet atheism, although it was the Ukrainian Orthodox Church that rebuilt it from its dilapidated state over the past 30+ years. At the end of 2022, the Church was expelled from the Upper Lavra, which includes the main cathedrals, and in March of 2023, the state also demanded that the monastery and Church leave the Lower Lavra, which includes the caves and monastic cells, though the Ukrainian people who confess Orthodoxy have prayerfully defended their beloved monastery, and the monks remain there to this day.
According to the Preserve, the land under Lavra has not been legislated for more than 30 years, and the issue became more acute after the termination of the lease with the monastery.
“This is the first step towards the full return of the Ukrainian Lavra to the Ukrainian people,” said Maxim Ostapenko, Director General of the Preserve. However, since the state began its campaign against the Lavra brotherhood and the UOC, access to the monastery and its churches has been more restricted than under Church control. Moreover, the schismatic “Orthodox Church of Ukraine” now serves in the Upper Lavra, which represents a far smaller segment of the Ukrainian people.