A publication is being disseminated in social networks saying that over 200 clergymen should vacate the territory of the Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra before 29 March 2023 in accordance with an order of the President of Ukraine whilst the monastic complex should be transformed into a museum-preserve.
There are two Orthodox churches in Ukraine: the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate (Українська православна церква Московского патриархату - УПС МП) and the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (Православна церква України – ПЦУ). The Ukrainian Orthodox Church received the Tomos of Autocephaly from the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople at the beginning of 2019. Over time, the autocephaly of the Church was recognised by the Patriarchate of Alexandria and Africa as well as the Churches of Hellas (Greece) and Cyprus.
Prior to the declaration of the autocephaly of the Ukrainian Church, the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (УПЦ МП) under the Moscow Patriarchate was considered the largest dominant entity among the several churches operating in Ukraine. The Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra, the country's main Orthodox complex, was until recently the residence of the Ukrainian Church under the Moscow Patriarchate.
On 27 May 2022, the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, which is subordinate to the Moscow Patriarchate, officially declared independence from the Russian Orthodox Church.
On 27 October 2022, the Head of the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU), Vasyl Maliuk, stated that the "УПЦ МП is an ideal environment for the operation of enemy agents." On November 22, the Security Service of Ukraine and the police conducted "counter-intelligence activities" in a number of monasteries belonging to the Ukrainian Orthodox Church subordinate to the Moscow Patriarchate, including the Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra, in order to "detect and prevent subversive activities" of the Russian special services. According to the statement of the SBU, these measures were taken in order to prevent the use buildings by saboteur groups and protect residents from provocations and terrorist attacks. As reported by Ukrainian officials, Ukraine has arrested 33 priests on charges of aiding Russia since the war began in February, most of them accused of collecting and passing information to Russia.
In December 2022, Volodymyr Zelensky said that all bodies responsible for ensuring national security should strengthen measures to detect and counter subversive activities of the Russian special services in the religious environment of Ukraine and impose personal sanctions. According to President Zelensky, the spiritual independence of the country will be guaranteed as a result of these and other decisions. The Ukrainian President suspended the citizenship of 13 clerics of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church under the Russian Patriarchate.
On 10 March 2023, the Ministry of Culture of Ukraine issued a statement that the National Reserve Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra sent a warning to the Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church on 10 March 2023 to terminate the 19 July 2013 agreement about the use of state-owned religious buildings and structures by religious organisations. Of note is that the Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra is owned by the Government of Ukraine and it was transferred to the Ukrainian Church of the Moscow Patriarchate by the agreement signed on 19 July 2013 - not for ownership but for use without remuneration. Accordingly, the specific conditions for using this monument of religious and cultural-historical importance were determined. The Minister of Culture and Information Policy of Ukraine, Aleksander Tkachenko, announced that monks and priests of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate must vacate all buildings of the Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra by March 29.
Epiphanius I, Metropolitan Bishop of Kyiv and Ukraine, denied information about closure of the monastery and underlined that prayers, church services and monastic life will continue. According to him, Metropolitan Onufryi (the former leader of the Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra) does not respond to the facts of the clergymen of his church collaborating with Russia. The Metropolitan stated that the public can clearly see how the Lavra has turned into a centre for spreading Russian ideology which also serves to justify Russia's war against Ukraine. According to Epiphanius I, those religious figures/monks who renounce the Moscow religious authorities will be able to continue serving in the monastery.
Therefore, the claim that the Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra is going to be transformed into a museum-reserve is FAKE NEWS.
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