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Ukraine Police Resort to Violence Against Religious Believers at Kiev-Pechersk Lavra

© Sputnik / Go to the mediabankNational Guard soldiers and police officers blocked the entrance to the Kiev Pechersk Lavra amid the coronavirus disease outbreak, in Kiev, Ukraine.
National Guard soldiers and police officers blocked the entrance to the Kiev Pechersk Lavra amid the coronavirus disease outbreak, in Kiev, Ukraine. - Sputnik International, 1920, 06.07.2023
Authorities have started to use force against parishioners of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (UOC) in the Kiev Pechersk Lavra, according to the monastery's lawyer.
The Kiev Pechersk Lavra monastery has once again been victim to police action in Ukraine, with followers violently tussled away from the religious site and a number of buildings illegally raided.
The monastery's lawyer, Nikita Chekman, reported on Thursday morning that police and representatives of the National Kiev-Pechersk Historical and Cultural Preserve, an organization dedicated to Ukrainian culture, unlawfully broke the locks and entered the residence of Metropolitan Onufriy, the head of the UOC.
According to the Union of Orthodox Journalists, representatives from the Ministry of Culture's commission also sealed off the monastery's workshops and a store for church furniture, as well as the Lavra's church store.
"Police are using force against churchgoers in the Kiev Pechersk Lavra," he wrote.
Earlier, the cultural organization imposed entrance limitations to the Lavra starting from July 5. According to reports, individuals will now only be permitted to visit the monastery grounds between 9:00 am and 6:00 pm (GMT+3).
The head of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church's Synodal Information and Education Department, Metropolitan Clement, voiced his concerns regarding the restricted access to the Lavra. He emphasized that this decision posed a significant hindrance to religious activities and the proper execution of religious rituals.
A general view shows the Uspensky Cathedral of the Kiev Pechersk Lavra monastery in Kiev, Ukraine, November 16, 2018. - Sputnik International, 1920, 21.04.2023
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He strongly reiterated the illegality of the ordinance, highlighting the fact that numerous monks have been living in the monastery for decades and that they are duly registered and recognized. He emphasized that no person or entity has the authority to prevent access to their lawful place of residence without a court order.
Furthermore, Clement lamented that the ramifications of this decision go beyond mere residency. It would prohibit the faithful from attending the beginning of the liturgies, which traditionally begin before 9:00 am. In addition, the restriction would prevent pilgrims from reaching the caves, an important place of worship for many of the faithful.
A new phase of the conflict over the Kiev-Pechersk Lavra began with the canonical UOC's notification that the Ministry of Culture of Ukraine had unilaterally terminated the lease of the monastery and demanded that the monks leave the site on March 29.
Participants of a religious procession dedicated to the 1030 anniversary of the Baptism of Rus in Kiev Pechersk Lavra, Kiev. - Sputnik International, 1920, 04.07.2023
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Later, Ukraine's Minister of Culture Alexander Tkachenko stated that the monks could remain in the Lavra on condition that they join the non-canonical Church of Ukraine. However, the acting abbot of the Kiev-Pechersk Lavra Metropolitan Pavel stated that there could be no compromise regarding the Lavra and that the brotherhood would stand its ground to the end.
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