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Anti-Ukrainian leaflets, cash found in Security Service’s largest-yet raid on Moscow-affiliated church

Photo by SBU
Anti-Ukrainian leaflets, cash found in Security Service’s largest-yet raid on Moscow-affiliated church
Ukraine’s Security Service (SBU) searched 350 church buildings and premises of 850 people affiliated with the Ukrainian Orthodox Church formerly part of the Moscow patriarchate, the Service reports.

During the largest-ever proceedings against the Moscow-affiliated church, numerous leaflets declaring Ukraine’s independence “a mistake” and promoting “unity” with Russia were found, along with other evidence.

The “counter-intelligence security measures” were carried out in the territories of the Holy Dormition Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra in Kyiv, the Koretsky Holy Trinity Monastery and in the premises of the Sarnenskyi-Polyskyi Eparchy of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church in the Rivne Oblast, the SBU reported.

Moscow Patriarchate’s Ukrainian Orthodox Church (UOC), which claimed to have cut all ties with the Russian church in May, exists separately from the Orthodox Church of Ukraine, the independent Ukrainian Orthodox Church (UOC), which received authocephaly in 2018. The latter is the most popular in Ukraine.

The Moscow branch of the Orthodox church is currently visited by 4% of Ukrainians (down from 16% before the invasion) while the share of those saying they are followers of the UOC has risen from 42% to 54%, the Kyiv International Institute of Sociology says. Meanwhile, 50% want the Moscow-affiliated church banned in Ukraine.

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

After the beginning of the 2022 Russian invasion, in May, the Ukrainian Orthodox Church under the Moscow Patriarchate claimed to have cut all ties with the Russian church. However, there were numerous cases of the collaboration of the priests of this church on occupied territories as well as propaganda during sermons that undermined Ukraine’s Independence.

On November 14, the Security Service opened criminal proceedings regarding church singing that glorified Russia during a service in the Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra and started searches on November 22.

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

SBU says that during the searches, more than 50 people underwent in-depth counterintelligence interviews, including the use of a polygraph. Among them were not only citizens of Ukraine, but also foreigners, in particular citizens of the Russian Federation, who were on the territory of the facilities.
Some of them, during the document check, provided passports and military tickets of the USSR, did not have original documents at all, only copies, or had passports of Ukrainian citizens with signs of forgery or damage. An in-depth check is currently being carried out on them, SBU said.

During the search, SBU found literature, which is used during studies in seminaries and parish schools with propaganda of the “Russian world” ideology and cash for a total amount of more than 2 million UAH, more than $100,000 and several thousand Russian rubles. All materials were submitted for appropriate expert research.

A 32-year-old citizen of Ukraine was also on the territory of the Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra,” SBU wrote. “He may be involved in the illegal activities of the pro-Russian news agency ‘Antvan’ in our country. At the same time, he is a trustee of the owner of the Russian company of the same name ‘ANTVAN GROUP’ – a citizen of the Russian Federation O.V. Orlov, who owned a number of land plots and public catering establishments in Ukraine. Currently, this property has been arrested as part of criminal proceedings.

Among other evidence, SBU found numerous leaflets calling for “unity” of Ukraine and Russia, as well as addresses of Moscow Patriarch Kirill saying that Ukraine’s independence is a mistake since “spiritually and historically it was never the case… so let’s restore historical truth.”
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