Ukraine accuses Church leader of pro-Russian stance -

8 June, Thursday

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Ukraine accuses Church leader of pro-Russian stance

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Ukrainian investigators are searching the home of an Orthodox Church leader in Kyiv accused of justifying Russia's armed aggression against Ukraine.
Ednews reports citing BBC that metropolitan Pavel Lebed runs the Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra, Ukraine's most important monastery. His branch of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (UOC) was previously loyal to Moscow clergy.
Kyiv prosecutors say he is suspected of inciting national and religious hatred.
Kyiv has been trying to evict him and his followers from the monastery.
Metropolitan Pavel has denied the allegations and argues that the Kyiv authorities have no legal grounds for evicting the monks and staff from the monastery.
In a court appearance on Saturday he called it "a political case" and said "I've never been on the side of aggression" - though he did not mention Russia.
"I'm against aggression. And now I'm in Ukraine - this is my land," he said. He described his current status as "house arrest".
On Friday hundreds of worshippers gathered at the Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra monastery - famous for its historic caves - in support of the monks there, protesting against the eviction order.
A statement from the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU), on the Telegram messaging service, says Metropolitan Pavel is suspected of "violating citizens' equality" based on their racial, national and religious ties.
It says he "repeatedly insulted the religious feelings of Ukrainians", "humiliated" other faith groups and "tried to create hostile attitudes towards them".
"He also made statements that justified or denied the actions of the aggressor state," the SBU says.

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