Moscow Patriarchate Priests in Four Cities of Ukraine Were Searched by the SBU

Translated by Ollie Richardson & Angelina Siard


On December 3rd employees of the SBU and the National Police carried out 8 searches in Kiev, Zhytomyr, Ovruch, and Korosten. The main department of the National Police of Ukraine in the Zhytomyr region reported that the searches were carried out within the framework of an investigation in the same criminal case that was initiated under the article about inciting ethnic strife.

In the Ovruch diocese law enforcement bodies searched the Svyato-Preobrazhensky cathedral and the premises of the diocesan management although the search warrant concerned only the Svyato-Preobrazhensky Cathedral. A search also took place in the house of the prior of the Svyato-Krestovozdvizhensky cathedral of the Zhytomyr diocese of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church – Archpriest Sergey Gritsayuk. Law enforcement bodies searched among the personal oracle clergyman of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church for materials that are capable of kindling “religious strife and hatred”.

During a search at the Spaso-Preobrazhensky cathedral of Ovruch law enforcement authorities entered the altars of the top and lower temples of the cathedral and ascended to the pulpit.

The basis for the ruling on a search and withdrawal of literature and computer carriers was alleged “information that was received by bodies of state security from patriotic forces”. The priest noted that the field investigators did not let the people who came to a service leave the temple.

The head of the Legal Department of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church archpriest Aleksandr Bakhov considers that law enforcement bodies of Ukraine follow instructions from above when they groundlessly accuse clergymen of the canonical Church of kindling interfaith hostility and at the same time do not notice the propaganda of the media and some politicians against the Ukrainian Orthodox Church.

“They look for religious strife where it doesn’t exist. At the same time they prefer not to notice the obvious facts of religious strife being incited by state officials and media towards the Ukrainian Orthodox Church,” reported the Information-Educational department of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, citing the words of archpriest Aleksandr.

As the “Uspishna Varta” human rights platform reported, on November 30 the SBU carried out searches at the place of residence of the deputy of the Kiev Pechersk-Lavra, Metropolitan Pavel of Vyshgorod and Chernobyl. The searches were carried out under the procedural management of the prosecutor’s office of the Kiev region “within the framework of the case of kindling interfaith hostility”.

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