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Kremlin says Ukrainian authorities' decision on Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Moscow Patriarchate justifies "special operation"

Friday, 17 March 2023, 11:29
Kremlin says Ukrainian authorities' decision on Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Moscow Patriarchate justifies special operation

Dmitry Peskov, press secretary of the Russian dictator, has said that the decision of the Ukrainian authorities not to extend the lease of the Kyiv Monastery of the caves to representatives of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate (UOC-MP) "confirms the correctness of the special operation [the term ‘war’ is prohibited in Russia – ed.] in Ukraine."

Source: Peskov at a press conference on 17 March

Quote: "The Kyiv regime is once again demonstrating its character with these illegal actions, encroachments on the church. [Ukraine is] the same character that we are fighting against and the same character that we must stop as a result of this ongoing operation.

This proves and shows once again that everything we are doing is absolutely right. Once again, I would like to express my deep regret that these illegal actions of the Kyiv regime are not being properly condemned by the international community."


Reference: The Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra Reserve is state property. However, its religious buildings and other property have been used for decades by the UOC-MP free of charge.

In March, the Reserve announced that the 2013 agreement on the free use of churches by the religious organisation would be terminated. The UOC-MP has to leave the territory by 29 March.

A commission that has been working in the Lower Lavra for the past two months has been finding violations of the terms of the agreement on the use of the monuments.


In particular, the abbot of the monastery, Metropolitan Pavlo Lebid, built 36 buildings on its territory that were not approved by the state, including his own mansion, and developed a diversified commercial activity. 

The priests and monks of the UOC-MP refuse to leave the territory of the Lavra.


  • On 10 March, the Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra National Reserve notified the UOC-MP monastery that the 10-year-old agreement (of 19 July 2013) on the free use of religious buildings and other state-owned property would be terminated on 29 March 2023.
  • The warning included a demand to vacate the buildings at 11 Lavrska Street and 15 Lavrska Street in Kyiv.
  • The UOC-MP stated that there are no legal grounds for this and that the eviction of its monastery from the Kyiv Monastery of the Caves is simply "a whim of officials from the Ministry of Culture."
  • Oleksandr Tkachenko, Ukraine’s Minister of Culture and Information Policy, has said that monks and priests from the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate (UOC-MP) must vacate all premises of the Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra (the Monastery of the Caves in Kyiv) by the end of March.
  • In 2022, the Security Service of Ukraine (SSU) conducted dozens of searches in various buildings of the UOC-MP, including the Kyiv Monastery of the Caves.
  • As of 23 February 2023, the SSU was investigating nearly 60 criminal proceedings against pro-Russian clergy of the UOC-MP, and more than 350 church buildings and 850 people were subject to in-depth inspections. The courts handed down 7 guilty verdicts.

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