Convicted Ukrainian hierarch was released from Ukraine

Minsk, June 25, 2024

Screenshot from a service in Minsk. Photo: Screenshot from a service in Minsk. Photo:     

The hierarch of the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church who was sentenced to five years’ imprisonment for allegedly supporting the Russian war in Ukraine and inciting religious enmity has been released and left Ukraine.

His Eminence Metropolitan Jonathan of Tulchin, 75, was initially found guilty last August, which was upheld by an appeals court last week.

The elderly hierarch, known as a composer of Church music, is also in poor health, which has only been exacerbated by the state’s persecution campaign against him. In November 2022, a month after the searches, after having been officially notified of state suspicion against him, he had to undergo heart surgery. In March of this year, he suffered a stroke and was hospitalized for 10 days.

Although for unknown reasons, the Metropolitan, who wrote a petition while being treated for his stroke, asking to be sent to Russia as part of a prisoner exchange, canceled this request at his court session on June 12. According to his lawyer, he is no prisoner of war and does not admit any guilt. His Eminence “wants to continue working for the good of Ukraine.”

However, on June 22, reports appeared on Russian Church resources that Met. Jonathan was released at the request of His Holiness Patriarch Kirill and following serious negotiations. According to, Pope Francis interceded on behalf of Met. Jonathan at the request of the Patriarch.

According to the reports, Met. Jonathan, who is “in dire need of treatment and medical rehabilitation, will soon arrive in Moscow.”

By Saturday, June 23, Met. Jonathan had left Ukraine and attended the All-Night Vigil for the feast of Holy Pentecost at the Holy Spirit Cathedral in Minsk.

In addition to Pat. Kirill, Met. Jonathan has received messages of support from His Beatitude Patriarch Theophilos of Jerusalem and His Beatitude Metropolitan Athanasios of Albania, and others.

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