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On Saturday, a Kyiv court ordered that Metropolitan Pavel, a Ukrainian Orthodox bishop, and head monk at the historic Pechersk Lavra Monastery, be put on house arrest. The bishop is suspected of justifying the Russian invasion, which has been made a criminal offense in Ukraine. Pavel has denied the accusations stating that he has “never been on the side of aggression.”
Despite his objections, Pavel was forced to wear an ankle monitor after a court hearing Saturday. The allegations against Pavel have been brought forth by the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU), whose agents have raided the bishop’s home.
Pavel’s arrest is part of a larger crackdown taking place in the country against the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (UOC) by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s government. While the UOC historically has ties with Russia, the church distanced itself from Moscow after the invasion and has denounced the war.
The church’s actions were not enough to convince Zelensky’s government, and other priests have been arrested and sanctioned as part of the nationwide crackdown.
Pavel’s house arrest appears to be part of a larger attempt on the part of Kyiv to evict UOC priests from the Pechersk Lavra, which is referred to as the Monastery of the Caves in English.
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While the Ukrainian government does own the Pechersk Lavra, it appears to be looking for any reason to have the priests removed. According to the government, the priests have violated their lease by altering the monastery, while the priests claim that the accusations are simply a pretext to have them removed. The UOC priests have refused to vacate the Pechersk Lavra and Ukraine’s deadline by which to have them evicted passed a few days ago. It is unclear at this time what additional steps, if any, the government will take to have the priests removed.
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But I bet not one Rabbi is in jail or one synagogue closed