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Court throws out Russian-linked church lawsuit: Moscow patriarchate must leave Kyiv monastery

Thursday, 30 March 2023, 18:32
Court throws out Russian-linked church lawsuit: Moscow patriarchate must leave Kyiv monastery

The Kyiv Commercial Court has dismissed the lawsuit brought by the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate (UOC-MP) against the Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra National Reserve. Pavlo, the abbot of the Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra and Metropolitan of the UOC-MP, had declared that UOC-MP clergy would not leave the territory of the Lavra until the court had handed down a judgment.

Source: Oleksandr Tkachenko, Minister of Culture and Information Policy of Ukraine; court judgment

Quote: "The court dismissed the claim in case No. 910/4552/23 filed by the UOC against the Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra National Reserve seeking the invalidation of the unilateral withdrawal from the agreement and application of the consequences of the invalidity of terminating Agreement No. 2 dated 19 July 2013 on the free use of religious buildings and other state-owned property by a religious organisation."


Details: Per a decision of the Ministry of Culture, the Moscow Patriarchate was supposed to leave the reserve by 29 March, but on 30 March, UOC-MP parishioners did not allow the ministry's commission to enter the Lavra to take an inventory of the reserve's property.

Abbot Pavlo (Lebid) told parishioners that the commission "may not work under any circumstances".

The UOC-MP attempted to appeal the authorities’ decision, filing a lawsuit with the Kyiv Commercial Court. The lawsuit is based on the claim that the agreement between the reserve and Lavra is in force and the UOC-MP has no reason to leave.


The court dismissed the claim brought by the UOC-MP representatives of the Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra.

The court noted that the plaintiff had been unable to prove or substantiate the claims that if UOC-MP clergy were evicted from the Lavra, this would give rise to a threat of "property being damaged, destroyed or handed over to third parties for ownership/usage, other religious organisations being allowed to hold religious services, and the rights of citizens of Ukraine to freedom of religion and to housing being infringed".

Previously: Despite having been requested to leave the shrine on 29 March, UOC-MP representatives still remained in the monastery as of the morning of 30 March and even held a service in one of the churches.

The commission had been due to inspect two buildings on 30 March.

Representatives of the Ministry of Culture said that if they are further obstructed, they will call the police.


  • On 29 March, the UOC-MP held its last service in the Church of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross on the lower grounds of Kyiv’s Monastery of the Caves. UOC-MP clergy were to have left the monastery on 30 March, but they did not wish to do so, and therefore filed a lawsuit against the Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra National Reserve.
  • According to Abbot Pavlo (Lebid), he and the UOC-MP clergy have the right to stay and do not plan to leave the monastery until the court case against the Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra Reserve is over.
  • Meanwhile Avraamii (Lotysh), Archimandrite of the Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra of the UOC-MP, joined the Orthodox Church of Ukraine (OCU) and asked its head, Metropolitan Epiphanius, to approve him as acting abbot of the monastery. Epiphanius agreed, and UOC-MP Metropolitan Onufriy banned Archimandrite Avraamii from serving for going over to the OCU.
  • In March 2023, the National Reserve Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra terminated the agreement with the UOC-MP on the free use of the monastery. The monks were supposed to leave the monastery and all its buildings on 29 March. The caves of the monastery have been closed for the duration of the inspection to preserve cultural property.
  • Metropolitan Epiphanius of the OCU said that the monastery on the territory of the Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra would not be closed, and that the language of worship would be Old Church Slavonic along with modern Ukrainian.
  • Oleksii Danilov, Secretary of the National Security and Defence Council, gave assurances that UOC-MP clergy would not be evicted from the Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra by force.

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