Kyiv not able to seal Orthodox monastery yet


Eastern Europe


Supporters of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (UOC) blocked access to the government's commission on Tuesday. Photo AFP, Sergei Chuzavkov

On Tuesday, the Ukrainian government commission could not seal the famous Lavra monastery in Kyiv. Activists of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (UOC) blocked the access. It is not clear what will happen now.

This was reported by several Ukrainian media, like the Union of Orthodox Journalists and The New Voice of Ukraine. The commission will block some entrances of the complex from Tuesday.

The government had announced that it would inspect and seal some parts of the huge complex of the Kyiv Pechersk-Lavra. This is an ancient monastery that is seen as a holy place for Orthodox believers all over the world.

Kyiv Pechersk-Lavra is the administrative centre of the UOC and the residence of the spiritual leader, Metropolitan Onufry.

The complex is officially the property of the Ukrainian State. It consists of numerous buildings and is home to 220 monks and even more students. After the independence of Ukraine in 1991, it was leased to the church, which reconstructed many parts of it.

However, tensions with Russia also caused tensions between the state and the church. Because of the UOC’s affiliation with Moscow (at least on paper), the church is under suspicion of collaboration with Russia. Although Metropolitan Onufry has been very clear since the beginning of the invasion that this is a crime. The UOC has also been very supportive of the Ukrainian army. This weekend, an archbishop of the UOC, Metropolitan Clement, said that the government was not able to provide “a single example” of proof of the UOC’s dependence on Moscow.

Earlier this year, the Ministry of Culture announced that the lease would be stopped. This decision came after some arrests of clergy people of the UOC for spying for Russia. The police also found Russian propaganda material in the Lavra buildings. After that, both the church and the state went to court. But they are still waiting for the final steps in the process.


The UOC is the traditional Orthodox Church in Ukraine and is still the people’s church with the most parishes in the country. The community is affiliated with the Moscow (MP) Patriarchate also. Although the Holy Synod of the UOC announced cutting all ties with the MP and scrapping all references to Moscow in the church’s statutes, the connection still remains because the Moscow Patriarchate has not changed the books.

Since 2019, there is also a new church: the Orthodox Church of Ukraine (OCU). That community is connected to the Patriarchate of Constantinople. This new OCU has much more sympathy for the Kyiv government than the UOC.


The Belarusian Orthodox Church (BOC) has offered to accept monks from the Kyiv Lavra to continue their monastic life. It is not clear whether this is realistic. Politically, Belarus is on this side of Moscow; the Ukrainian church is not (at least not in the majority).



Subscribe for an update, and receive a documentary and e-book for free.

Choose your subscriptions*

You may subscribe to multiple lists.