Russia reacts furiously to the imprisonment of Ukrainian cleric


Eastern Europe


Pavel, Metropolitan of Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate and the vicar of Kiev-Pechersk Lavra. Ukrainian Security Service said earlier that its officers have searched the home of the father superior of Kyiv's biggest and oldest monastery, which is part of the Russian Orthodox Church. Photo EPA, Stepan Franko

The abbot of the well-known cave monastery in Kyiv must exchange his house arrest for detention in prison. The court has decided so. Russia reacts furiously.

According to Ukrainian authorities, Metropolitan Pavel of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church under the Moscow Patriarchate has justified or denied the actions of the Russian Federation after they invaded Ukraine. Therefore, the 62-year-old was placed under house arrest. But on Friday, a Kyiv court approved a request from the prosecutor’s office to incarcerate him. Bail has been set at around 900,000 euros. The Abbott of the Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra monastery will stay in prison until at least August 14th.

During the trial, prosecutors quoted several times from overheard phone conversations. In them, Pavel allegedly said, among other things, that “moronic idiots in America say they pray for peace and immediately shove weapons” and that “America is at war with Russia to the last Ukrainian.”

According to the Kyiv Post, the prosecutor’s office had initially sought to extend his detention until September 1st and impose a bail amount equivalent to approximately 1.6 million euros.

In response to journalists, the Metropolitan says he disagrees with the ruling and does not know where to get the money to be released. In a video, the abbot comments on the decision, but he is interrupted by court officials, who take him into custody. According to local media, the Metropolitan plans to appeal.


Russia, meanwhile, is reacting furiously to the metropolitan’s detention. Tatiana Moskalkova is the Human Rights Commissioner in Russia and called the actions of the Ukrainian authorities “a blatant violation of the right to freedom of conscience and an insult to the feelings of hundreds of thousands of parishioners and ministers of the UOC.”

Patriarch Kirill, the head of the Russian Orthodox Church, also interfered. According to to him, the ruling is unjust and imposed by the Ukrainian authorities. “[This ruling] is intended to intimidate believers and force them to stop defending their religious freedom and holy places, and is part of the large-scale persecution of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church by the Ukrainian authorities.”


At a trial in May, Metropolitan Pavel denied the charges brought against him. He argued that the claims were politically driven. He also expressed his discontent with his nickname “Pasha Mercedes”, attributed to him due to his fondness for expensive cars. “I am no longer a Mercedes; I am a Tesla”, he said, referring to the electronic bracelet that he had to wear for a long time and which, according to him, constantly discharged.

The detention of Metropolitan Pavel is another step in the bitter fight over the famous Cave Monastery in Kyiv. Kyiv Pechersk-Lavra is the administrative centre of the UOC and the residence of the spiritual leader, Metropolitan Onufry.



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