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Gedeon from the "kiosk church" in Desyatynna Street and the stolen skull

As you may know, the Kyiv Economic Court ordered that the territory of the National Museum of Ukraine be ridden of the illegally constructed "church" of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate (UOC-MP).

With one more level of jurisdiction left, an appeal is possible but is unlikely to change anything.

The story of Desyatynka, a historical area in Kyiv's Desyatynna Street, has been going on for a long time, since the mid-noughties. We've talked a lot about how a kiosk appeared there and how it was replaced with a capital structure. And why the courts turned a blind eye to all this.

But at the centre of all these events there has always been the colourful figure of Father Gedeon (Kharon).

UOC-MP Bishop Gedeon and Metropolitan Onufriy
UOC-MP Bishop Gedeon and Metropolitan Onufriy
He is an Odesa resident who lived in the United States for a long time and was even granted its citizenship. He spoke about it in Ukraine without any secrecy. He had an American passport in addition to his Russian one.

The most epic episode is an interview with the then advisor to the head of the SBU, Yuriy Tandit, in 2018.

Tandit had his own show Good and Evil on Pryamyy TV.

So he invited Gedeon for an "interview".

I'm using the quotation marks to avoid calling this flattering conversation an interview.

This was the "tell us why you are so awesome" kind of talk.

So, the adviser to the head of the SBU (!) calmly says: "You have lived in the United States for a long time and are a citizen."

" Yeah. In Santa Barbara, which is famous for the TV series," Gedeon nods cheerfully.

Yuriy Tandit and Yuriy Kharon (Archimandrite Gedeon)
Photo: Screengrab
Yuriy Tandit and Yuriy Kharon (Archimandrite Gedeon)
By the way. In the same year of 2018, he asked the Supreme Court to declare illegal and invalidate parliament's appeal to the Ecumenical Patriarchate to grant Ukraine the Tomos.

And in February 2019, he was turned around at Boryspil and sent back to Frankfurt, where he had come from. The reason is the same: passports. What did the UOC-MP say about this? That's right, the legal department of the UOC-MP said that despite being stripped of Ukrainian citizenship and deported, Gedeon remains a bishop of the UOC-MP. Checkmate!

Moreover, Gedeon returned quickly: six months later, the District Administrative Court (the same one, yes!) restored his Ukrainian citizenship.

In December 2022, he was again deprived of Ukrainian citizenship by the decision of the Migration Service (along with five other "dignitaries" from the UOC-MP. Another 13 were deprived of their citizenship by the presidential decree). The scandalous KDAC has been liquidated, and it will not be possible to "cut the deal" anymore. So, the story of Father Gedeon's activities in Ukraine can be considered finished. But personally, when I hear his name, I immediately recall a story that he was very proud of and often told.

So, after Santa Barbara, Gedeon became the abbot of the newly established monastery in honour of John of Shanghai in San Francisco. And what does a monastery need? That's right, holy relics!

During his visit to the United States
Photo: Facebook/Gedeon Kharon
During his visit to the United States
Where to get them?


I have already told you that relics are quite a commodity on the church "market." And not only that. Anyone can order something simple on eBay. For more serious purchases, there are special people, such as Viktor (Bykov) Artsyzkyy and his right-hand man, Viktor (Hradomskyy) from Odesa. Both of them have Russian passports, and Bykov was deprived of his citizenship by the same decision of the Migration Service as Gedeon, and Hradomskyy by a presidential decree.

The latter holds four (!) passports in total. He even outdid [Ukrainian tycoon] Ihor Kolomoyskyy (who has three). Well, he travels around the world buying relics, he needs them for his work.

You may be laughing, but in fact this tradition is old, very old. In the Middle Ages, relics were a real currency that was highly valued.

But in the early 1990s, Gedeon decided to save money. He was planning a trip to the Holy Land. And so, in the monastery of St. Sava the Sanctified in the Kedron Valley, he took a moment to go down to the ossuary alone. The ossuary is a place where ordinary monks are buried. According to Greek practice, the skull goes on the shelf, the bones go in the ossuary.

I emphasize: ordinary monks, not saints.

Gedeon grabbed the first skull that came to hand. Well, why? The man lived in a monastery, so he must be good. And who in San Francisco would inquire whose skull it is, he would simply say it was a saint, and they would believe it (spoiler alert: it happened).

Gedeon hid the "trophy" in a klobux box (used to transport the metropolitan's main vestment, the klobuk) and left for the airport.

Photo: Bihus
The story culminates in Ben Gurion.

The klobux box is placed on a belt for screening. They X-ray it. When the customs officers saw the skull, they freaked out. They X-rayed it again.

"Sir, what have you got there?"

"Grandpa. My grandfather."


"You see, I am originally from Odesa. And this is the first time I managed to get to the Holy Land. My grandfather dreamed of it very much. But he didn't live to see it. So I dug him up and brought him to Israel so that he could fulfil his dream in this way. Now I'm bringing it back."

"Are you out of your mind, Sir? We can't let you through with this. You will have to leave the skull."

"What do you mean, leave it?" Gedeon shouts, rolling his eyes theatrically. "You mean I can't return my grandfather's head to my grandmother?"

Have no doubt about it, he actually managed to get the skull out. He was very proud of that - he had fooled the whole Ben Gurion! I told you: he was telling and laughing.

Sonya KoshkinaSonya Koshkina, editor in chief
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