‘God Will Punish You’: Ukraine Expels Christian Monks from Monastery Amid Allegations They Are ‘Pro-Russian’

KYIV, UKRAINE - MARCH 24: Ukrainian orthodox church of Moscovian patriarchate prepares to leave the Kyiv-Pechersk lavra in Kyiv on March 24, 2023 in Kyiv, Ukraine. Kyiv Pechersk lavra is one of the oldest monasteries of Ukraine and it was used by many years by Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Moscowian …
Danylo Antoniuk/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Authorities in Kyiv have reportedly expelled a large number of Christian monks from a historic monastery amid suspicion they are “pro-Russian”.

Around 1,000 Christians residing in the Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra monastery complex have reportedly been ordered to pack their bags and leave by the Ukrainian government amid claims that they hold “pro-Russian” views.

The move is part of an ongoing campaign of de-Russification of Ukraine and suppression of what the government sees as potential fifth columnists as it fights a defensive war against Russia’s ongoing attempted invasion. Last year, the Zelensky administration outright banned the country’s main opposition parties under martial law powers given to the government.

The ban even included the ‘Opposition Platform — For Life’ political party, the second most popular party in the country as of the last Ukrainian general election in 2019.

According to a report by POLITICO, the many monks and other Christians living in the monastery have now reportedly been given their marching orders amid claims that their loyalties lie with Moscow.

Although the eviction is reportedly due to a ten-year agreement allowing the Christians to live in the building running out, the publication has described Kyiv’s decision to tell the Christians to get out as being “highly political”, linking it to the fact that those living in the complex are members of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church.

Unlike the now-majority Orthodox Church of Ukraine, the Ukrainian Orthodox Church is still said to be in communion with the Russian Orthodox Church, reportedly prompting fears that those who remain within the religious organisation could end up Russian agents.

Such a suggestion has been denounced by some residing within the monastery, with the head of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church’s youth department, Archbishop Iona, arguing that it has just as high a chance of harbouring potential Russian collaborators as any other Ukrainian institution.

“Only a few priests have indeed collaborated,” he said. “It is not right to apply collective guilt to a church. There were also collaborators among [Security Service of Ukraine] and other organs. But the government chose to attack the church.”

“It’s as if they are taking our home,” one woman living in the monastery reportedly said. “God will punish you, and others like you for playing with his will.”

Authorities in Ukraine have reportedly said that, while it was now ordering the around 1,000 residents of the complex to leave, it would not pursue the eviction with force for the time being should the request be ignored.

Perhaps more controversially however, Ukrainian Culture Minister Oleksandr Tkachenko also said that the government would grant the faithful permission to stay in the monastery if they converted to the pro-Kyiv Orthodox Church of Ukraine.


Government officials have also tried to silence pro-Russian sentiment abroad, making the demand last year that all countries make displaying the pro-Russian “Z” symbol a criminal offence, as it is already in the likes of Germany.

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