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Ukraine’s services raid Kyiv monastery following espionage suspicion

Ukraine’s SBU security service and police raided a 1,000-year-old Orthodox Christian monastery in Kyiv early on Tuesday as part of operations to counter suspected “subversive activities by Russian special services,” the SBU said.

The sprawling Kyiv Pechersk Lavra complex that was raided is a Ukrainian cultural treasure and the headquarters of the Russian-backed wing of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church known as the Moscow Patriarchate.

The SBU conducts counterintelligence activities in the Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra

They are checking the data on the use of the premises for hiding weapons and storing weapons. pic.twitter.com/yAuoerr5u8

— MAKS 22🇺🇦 (@Maks_NAFO_FELLA) November 22, 2022
“These measures are being taken… as part of the systemic work of the SBU to counter the destructive activities of Russian special services in Ukraine,” the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) said in a statement.

It said the search was aimed at preventing the use of the cave monastery as “the centre of the Russian world” and carried out to look into suspicions “about the use of the premises… for sheltering sabotage and reconnaissance groups, foreign citizens, weapons storage.”

In May, the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate ended its ties with the Russian church over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and condemned the support of Patriarch Kirill, the head of Russia’s church, for the ongoing war.

SBU (Security Service of #Ukraine), National Police, & National Guard raided the Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra Monastery. Appears there are some #Kremlin agents & spies working in the heart of #Kyiv. That #Russia would infiltrate a religious institution is no surprise. pic.twitter.com/xTiqiUZg8n

— Igor Sushko (@igorsushko) November 22, 2022
A 2020 survey by the Kyiv-based Razumkov Centre found that 34 percent of Ukrainians identified as members of the main Orthodox Church of Ukraine, while 14 percent were members of Ukraine’s Moscow Patriarchate Church.

In 2019, Ukraine was given permission by the spiritual leader of Orthodox Christians worldwide to form a church independent of Moscow, largely ending centuries of religious ties between the two countries.


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