Ukraine’s SBU Security Service Have Raided a 1,000-year-old Orthodox Christian Monastery in Kyiv


Ukraine’s SBU security service and police have raided a 1,000-year-old Orthodox Christian monastery in Kyiv as part of operations to counter suspected “subversive activities by Russian special services”.

Located south of the city centre, the sprawling Kyiv Pechersk Lavra complex – or Kyiv Monastery of the Caves – is the headquarters of the Russian-backed wing of the Ukrainian Orthodox church that falls under the Moscow patriarchate, as well as being a Ukrainian cultural treasure and a Unesco World Heritage site.

The Russian Orthodox church, whose head, Patriarch Kirill, has strongly supported Moscow’s military actions in Ukraine, condemned the raid as an “act of intimidation”.

It said the search was aimed at preventing the use of the cave monastery as “the centre of the Russian world” and carried out to look into suspicions “about the use of the premises … for sheltering sabotage and reconnaissance groups, foreign citizens, weapons storage”.

The “Russian world” concept is at the centre of Vladimir Putin’s new foreign policy doctrine that aims to protect Russia’s language, culture and religion. It has been used by conservative ideologues to justify intervention abroad.

The SBU did not give details about the outcome of Tuesday’s raid. Armed officers were seen carrying out ID checks and searching the bags of worshippers before letting them inside.

On Tuesday, the SBU, police and National Guard also searched two other monasteries and the headquarters of the Moscow patriarchate’s diocese in western Ukraine, the SBU’s branch in the Rivne region said in a statement posted on Facebook.

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