Vicar of the Kiev-Pechersk Lavra: “We Are Not Afraid of Neo-Nazis”

Translated by Ollie Richardson & Angelina Siard


The vicar of the Kiev-Pechersk Lavra metropolitan Pavel (Petr Lebed) described to the correspondent of the Federal News Agency his attitude towards the attack on the religious organisation committed by Ukrainian neo-Nazis of the far-right group C14.

As a reminder, on January 8th the entrance to the Kiev-Pechersk Lavra was blocked by about 30 people in balaclavas. They were neo-Nazis from the far-right organisation “C14”. On their Facebook page they said that nationalists oppose priests refusing to read out the burial service for perished Ukrainian military and civilians who are atheists or baptised not in church of the Moscow Patriarchate.

The Kiev correspondent of the FAN arrived on Lavrskaya Street where the Kiev-Pechersk monastery is located – the prior of which Father Pavel was not afraid to come out to the nationalists, and convinced them to leave the holy site.

The correspondent of the FAN spoke for about half an hour with the Metropolitan of Vyshgorod and Chernobyl, the vicar of the Kiev metropolitanate and the Svyato-Uspensky Kiev-Pechersk Lavra Pavel, and managed to ask some questions.

“There were no prerequisites for the attack, after all, Christmas is a global holiday uniting all believers, and the aim of this holiday is to save people, when the heavenly Father sends his son. The attack of our haters was ordered, politically motivated, directed specifically against our church – the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church (UOC), a self-governed church in the structure of the Moscow Patriarchate. We live here and pray both for our country and for the whole world. The fact that the event was a political provocation was confirmed by a huge number of journalists, who came together with the people attacking us. It was an order, otherwise there wouldn’t have been so many television cameras. Now all Ukrainian TV channels inflate this subject and accuse and insult us. But during the holidays only peace and good must be shown on TV. But they have only a chronicle of murders and dark presentations, libertinism, and lawlessness. I do not doubt that this was a planned action against the church and against God.”

It is said that the main motive of the radicals is that you are connected to Russia, to Russian culture. This is the work of Russophobes?

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“I do not know who pays them, maybe Americans or someone else. Of course, hatred towards everything Russian and Orthodoxy was shown there. This is now supported at the highest level of the authorities. Otherwise there wouldn’t be so much television. Our foes behave like Herods.”

Is it possible to consider the antics of nationalists as revenge for the fact that the church took an active part in a recent exchange of prisoners of war between the UAF and the unrecognised republics?

“I do not know. When I came out to them, they told me that I was a communist and therefore I deserve punishment. I told them that their parents also were communists, and communists weren’t bad people. I told them that we are not the FSB or terrorists, that we are engaged and we will continue to be engaged in mercy, for example, in the release of prisoners. One of them answered me: ‘This is a circus!’. I told him: ‘Heaven forbid that you are taken prisoner and find out whether this is a circus or not’.”

They promise to come to you more than once. You, besides words, have no other weapons.

“Firstly, God will not leave us. Secondly, they do not want to repent of their sins and the lawlessness they carry out. I will say once again: today Ukrainian television says only lies. Yesterday I watched and found out that, for example, the prosecutor’s office of Ukraine initiated a case because we did not want to bury a two-year-old boy. But we have no right to do this. His family was christened at the Kiev patriarchate, which is not recognised by any of the canonical local orthodox churches. And if tomorrow homosexuals come to us and ask to marry them — should we marry them? And this, by the way, was also used by nationalists against us, they reproached us for this. But we had no right to do it! People must have common sense. But here there isn’t any.”

Vladika, were you afraid when you came out to them, being alone against a crowd?

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“No, I wasn’t afraid. After all, behind me is Christ’s name, and whatever happens, I know that the truth is on my side.”

In conclusion, Vladika wished peace, good, and tranquillity to all readers of the FAN.

“I heartily wish for peace of the soul and world peace; deep belief, because when a person believes, they can create any acts of mercy, and for them Christ is an example. And even if it is necessary to endure something in life, we have to do it with dignity, hoping for God’s mercy and being grateful to him. The Lord is merciful, he vouchsafed us to endure all the suffering that exists today in our country. I hope the time will come when long-awaited peace arrives,” wished metropolitan Pavel.

As a reminder, the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church (UOC) – a self-governed church in the structure of the Moscow patriarchate – operates in Ukraine, as well as the unrecognised in the Orthodox world structure – the Kiev patriarchate (UOC KP) and the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church (UAOC).

In 1992 the metropolitan Filaret (Denisenko) demanded autocephaly from the UOC. After having not received this consent, he created and legally registered the so-called Kiev patriarchate. None of the canonical local orthodox churches recognise its legitimacy.

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