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Ukrainian bishop claims he is under house arrest — RT Russia and the former Soviet Union

Metropolitan Pavel, abbot of Kyiv’s Pechersk Lavra, has been accused of harboring pro-Russian sympathies

The head of Ukraine’s largest Orthodox Christian monastery said he was under house arrest, marking the latest twist in religious repression in Kyiv. Metropolitan Pavel (secular name Pyotr Lebed), senior bishop of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (UOC), is suspected of inciting religious tensions.

The cleric, who has been abbot of kyiv’s Pechersk Lavra since 1994, told reporters about his arrest on Saturday, in a video broadcast by Ukrainian news network Vesti.

Meanwhile, the SBU, Ukraine’s internal security service, said in a statement that it “had collected substantiated evidence” that the bishop was “incitement to interreligious enmity” And “justifying Russia’s aggression.” The two potential charges carry prison terms of up to eight years and three years, respectively.

On Saturday, local media reported that during a hearing in a Kyiv court, Pavel said he was not feeling well, leading the judge to postpone the hearing to Monday.

The SBU said Pavel “insulted the religious feelings of Ukrainians” And “tried to create hostile attitudes” towards members of other religious denominations. The cleric’s home was also raided by SBU agents, and the bishop was called in for questioning, according to the UOC.

Metropolitan Pavel denied the allegations, insisting that he always condemned Moscow’s military operation and “stood in defense of my homeland.”

The Russian Orthodox Church denounced the SBU’s crackdown on the bishop. Vladimir Legoida, who heads the church’s public relations department, said the house arrest was made “on false charges” and is “a natural consequence of violations of justice” committed by the Ukrainian authorities.

kyiv’s Pechersk Lavra, which is administered by the UOC, is 980 years old and has been the target of fierce campaigning by Ukrainian authorities in recent months. Kyiv officials suspect the UOC of secretly supporting the Russian government as it declared independence from Moscow after the conflict began in February 2022.

The crackdown culminated last month when Ukraine’s culture ministry claimed, without providing any evidence, that the UOC had violated the 2013 agreement that allowed it to administer the monastery, with the monks ordered to leave the premises. However, the UOC refused to comply, describing the order as “illicit.”

Ukraine’s efforts to expel the monks have sparked tensions between supporters and opponents of the UOC. On Saturday, local media shared footage of a brief clash between the two groups near the site.

Ukraine has long experienced religious tensions, with a number of entities claiming to be the true Ukrainian Orthodox Church. The two main rival factions are the Ukrainian Orthodox Church and the Kyiv-backed Ukrainian Orthodox Church (OCU), considered by the Russian Orthodox Church to be schismatic.

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