SBU raids Moscow Patriarchate controlled Kyiv Pechersk Lavra monastery complex in Ukrainian capital (updated)

Ukraine's Security Service officers entering the Kyiv Pechersk Lavra monastery in central Kyiv on 22 November 2022. Photo: Telegram/SBU 

Russo-Ukrainian war 2022

On the morning of 22 November 2022, the Security Service of Ukraine reported on Telegram that it was taking “counter-intelligence (security) measures on the territory of the Holy Dormition Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra in Kyiv.” SBU conducts the operation jointly with the National Police and the National Guard “within the framework of the SBU’s systematic work to counter the subversive activities of the Russian special services in Ukraine.”

The Kyiv-based lavra is a 1,000-year-old Orthodox Christian monastery complex currently controlled by the Moscow Patriarchate’s Ukrainian Orthodox Church (UOC) which claimed to have cut all ties with the Russian church in May.

Half of Ukrainians want Moscow Patriarchate church banned in Ukraine, poll shows

According to SBU, “taking into account the armed aggression of the Russian Federation, the risk of committing terrorist acts, sabotage, and hostage-taking increases, especially in places with a large concentration of citizens.”

The agency says it’s raiding Lavra for:

  • preventing the use of the Lavra as a center of the “Russki Mir” (Russian peace/world, – Ed);
  • checking reports on the use of UOC premises for hiding sabotage and intelligence groups, foreign citizens, storing weapons, etc.
  • securing the population against provocations and terrorist acts.

SBU says that with the direct participation of church representatives, law enforcement officers conducted “an inspection of the territory and premises of the Lavra to identify prohibited items” and carried out “checks on persons on the territory of the Lavra regarding their involvement in illegal activities to the detriment of the state sovereignty of Ukraine.”

The Security Service emphasized that all actions take place within the limits of current legislation and assured that it adheres to the principle of impartiality towards the activities of any religious denomination in Ukraine.

​​On November 14, the Security Service opened criminal proceedings regarding church singing that glorified Russia during a service in the Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra.

Update: not only Kyiv

According to the Rivne Oblast Directorate of SBU, the security agency has been conducting security measures on the territory of the Holy Trinity Monastery in Koretsk, the God’s Mother Volyn Icon convent in Sernyky, and the premises of the Sarny-Polissia Diocese of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (Moscow Patriarchate).

The Rivne office of the SBU copied the entire motivational part of the original report on raiding the Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra regarding the reasons for the searches, also saying that SBU, Police, and National Guard conduct this operation “within the framework of the SBU’s systematic work to counter the subversive activities of the Russian special services in Ukraine.”

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