Ukraine’s SBU Security Service Searches Residence Of Metropolitan Pavlo, Issues Notice Of Suspicion


(RFE/RL) — The Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) on April 1 officially confirmed that it has served a notice of suspicion to Metropolitan Pavlo of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (UOC), a former abbot at the famed Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra monastery, and searched his residence.

The UOC is a branch of Ukraine’s Orthodox Church that previously was under the jurisdiction of the Russian Orthodox patriarch in Moscow. It cut ties with Moscow in May over Russia’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine, but it has been accused of maintaining links to Russia.

The SBU said in a message on Telegram that it had collected “reasonable evidence regarding the involvement of Pavlo, a former abbot of the Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra, in inciting religious enmity, justifying, and denying the armed aggression of the Russian Federation against Ukraine.”

“In particular, it was established that in his public speeches, [Pavlo] repeatedly insulted the religious feelings of Ukrainians, humiliated the views of believers of other faiths, and tried to instigate hostile attitudes towards them, as well as made statements that justified or denied the actions of the aggressor country,” the message reads.

The SBU confirmed the notice of suspicion against Pavlo under two articles of the Ukrainian Criminal Code — inciting interreligious hatred, as well as justifying Russian aggression against Ukraine.

A notice — or notification — of suspicion is a legal tool in the criminal procedure law of Ukraine that serves to notify an individual that he or she is suspected of committing criminal offenses.

“Currently, investigations are being conducted at the places of residence and temporary stay of the person involved. Measures to expose the offense were carried out under the procedural guidance of the Prosecutor-General’s Office,” the SBU reported.

The SBU did not provide information about the alleged summoning of Pavlo for questioning or about allegedly placing him under house arrest, as reported by some media.

The developments came as UOC members refused to leave the Pechersk Lavra monastery by March 29, as ordered by Ukrainian authorities.

Pavlo told worshippers on March 29 that the UOC would not leave the site pending the outcome of a lawsuit it filed last week to stop the eviction.

The 11th-century monastery and UNESCO World Heritage site, which is also known as the Monastery of the Caves, is owned by the Ukrainian government, and the agency overseeing the property notified the UOC earlier this month that it was terminating the lease as of March 29.

However, the secretary of Ukraine’s National Security and Defense Council, Oleksiy Danilov, said on March 29 that force will not be used to evict representatives of the UOC, despite the monks’ refusal to leave the historic site.

However, Danilov, speaking on Ukrainian television, said while there will be no eviction, the monastery must be turned over to the Ukrainian government.

“If someone thinks that he has the right not to follow the laws of our country, then he is deeply mistaken…. The laws of Ukraine must be followed by everyone,” Danilov said. He added that the monks are expected to leave quietly.

The Orthodox Church of Ukraine (OCU) is the country’s main Orthodox church. A 2020 survey found that 34 percent of Ukrainians identified as members of the OCU, while 14 percent said they were members of the UOC.


RFE/RL journalists report the news in 21 countries where a free press is banned by the government or not fully established.

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