Kyiv, Nov 23 (IANS): Ukrainian security forces raided an 11th-century Christian monastery in kyiv to “counter the subversive activities of Russian intelligence” in the war-torn country, media reported.
Since its founding in 1051, the Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra has been a preeminent center of Eastern Orthodox Christianity in Eastern Europe.
Also a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the historic monastery broke away from the Moscow Patriarchate after Russia launched its continued invasion of Ukraine on February 24.
In a statement released on Tuesday, the Security Service of Ukraine (SSU) said: “These measures are taken jointly with the National Police and the National Guard as part of the systematic efforts of the SSU to counter the subversive activities of Russian special forces in Ukraine. .
“There is a growing risk of terrorist attacks, sabotage and hostage taking, especially in crowded places, in light of Russia’s military aggression.”
According to the SSU, measures have also been taken to prevent the historical site from being used as the center of the “Russian world”; verify reports that the premises are used to conceal sabotage and reconnaissance groups and foreign citizens and to store weapons; and protect citizens from false flag operations and terrorist attacks, Ukrayinska Pravda said citing the SSU statement.
Tuesday’s raids come after Ukrainian authorities responded to complaints that clergy have glorified Russia and may be in cahoots with the Kremlin, the BBC reported.
A criminal investigation was opened a week ago after a sung pro-Russian propaganda video was aired, referring to the awakening of “Mother Russia”.
A few days later, the head of a diocese in the Vinnytsia region of central Ukraine was accused of preparing propaganda leaflets supporting the Russian invasion.
In response to the raids, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said “Ukraine is at war with the Russian Orthodox Church.”
In his condemnation of the incident, Kirill, Patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church, said it was an “act of intimidation of believers”.