4 Dec 2018 19:43

SBU unit's behind pressure on Ukrainian Orthodox Church - media

KYIV. Dec 4 (Interfax) - Employees of a special unit of the Ukrainian Security Service (SBU) responsible for the protection of the system of government have organized pressure on the heads of the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church, the Ukrainian media Vesti said.

Last week, law enforcement authorities conducted several-hours-long searches in the house of the vicar of the Kyiv Pechersk Lavra, Metropolitan Pavel (Lebed).

"It stands out that the officers of the 'T' department searched the estate, it is a specialized unit of the SBU conducting operations to protect the system of government," the media cited lawyer Oleksandr Romasev, who was present during the search, as saying.

According to the lawyer, who cited sources in law enforcement agencies, the "T" department's objectives are more global than simply protecting the religious rights of citizens from violations.

"In principle, it continues the logical chain with the inventory of the church's property, which took place last week. Pressure is ongoing and it is increasing," Romasev said.

According to Vesti, pressure on the episcopacy of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church is continuing on several tracks, in particular, bishops are being detained on the border. A week ago, Archbishop Klyment, the head of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church's information and education department, was held for about an hour at the Boryspil airport without being allowed to enter the country.

"The only question officials of the State Border Guard Service asked me is what patriarchate I am affiliated with. One of the border guards told me that my personal information, as well as information of other bishops, were added to the database of persons, who must be examined more strictly, must pass the 'red' corridors and must be detained upon crossing the border," the archbishop said.

A similar situation happened to Metropolitan Luka of Zaporizhzhya and Melitopol.

Additionally, according to Vesti, representatives of security services are paying visits to bishops' relatives and entrepreneurs, who support dioceses of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church.

According to priests, an information campaign, the main element of which is fake news in media and on social networks, has been initiated against the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, Vesti said. Judging by an extensive scale of articles, an entire group of professional analysts is following the Ukrainian Orthodox Church's activities, it said.

The Ukrainian Orthodox Church believes that the aim of the authorities' pressure is to force it to take part on the so-called unifying council to establish the church independent from Moscow. The refusal of the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church's clergy to participate in this event is the main reason of the delay in the granting of autocephaly to Ukraine.