This morning, SBU officers came to the Holy Dormition Pochaiv Lavra (UOC-MP) with searches, sources in law enforcement said. The preliminary reason for the visit is the spread of Russian ideology by representatives of the monastery.
Update. The SBU has officially confirmed investigative actions on the territory of the Lavra. The searches are part of a criminal investigation into the involvement of the Lavra's leadership in inciting national hatred and enmity.
"According to the investigation, representatives of the Pochayiv Lavra published an article on the monastery's website that insulted the national honour and dignity of Jews as well as incited religious enmity towards representatives of all churches except the UOC. In addition, in this post, the clergy of the UOC (MP) questioned the existence of Ukraine as a sovereign state separate from Russia," the statement reads.
An examination initiated by the Security Service confirmed the presence of statements in the text of the online publication that incite ethnic hatred and enmity.
An investigation is underway to establish all the circumstances of the crime in the framework of criminal proceedings under Article 161 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine (violation of equality of citizens based on their race, nationality, religion, religious beliefs, disability and other grounds).
All actions are carried out within the framework of the current legislation.
"We emphasise that in its activities, the SBU adheres to the principle of impartiality to the activities of any religious denomination and respects the right of every citizen to freedom of worldview and religion, as defined by the Constitution of Ukraine," the press service added.
The complex measures are being carried out by the SBU in Ternopil Region jointly with the National Police under the procedural guidance of the Ternopil Regional Prosecutor's Office.
The Pochayiv Lavra is located in the Ternopil Region. It is the largest Orthodox shrine in Volyn. The lease of the monastery by the Moscow Patriarchate is valid until 2052, but this year the Ministry of Culture set up a commission to check the use of the monastery's facilities. Also, the Verkhovna Rada Committee on Humanitarian and Information Policy recommends that the parliament adopt a draft resolution (9179) on an appeal to the Cabinet of Ministers with a proposal to terminate the lease agreement with the UOC-MP for the Pochayiv Monastery complexes. The committee noted that the UOC-MP received state property for free use and was not subject to ministerial inspections and public control.
The Pochayiv Monastery was leased to the UOC-MP in 2003. The Pochayiv Lavra complex includes 18 buildings, six of which are on the balance sheet of the Kremenets-Pochayiv State Historical and Architectural Reserve. In February 2023, the head of the Ternopil Regional Council, Mykhailo Holovko, announced the first meeting of a working group studying the legality of using the complex of the Pochayiv Holy Dormition Monastery of the UOC-MP.