Russia-tied religious groups face Kyiv ban
Following a raid last week on a Ukrainian Orthodox monastery that Kyiv said was possibly housing Russian spies, Ukraine’s President asked lawmakers to pass legislation that would ban the operation of religious organisations “affiliated with centres of influence” in Russia.
President Volodymyr Zelensky proposed the new measures in his nightly address to Ukraine on Thursday.
His request came after a November 22 raid by Ukrainian security services of the Monastery of the Caves, one of the holiest sites for Orthodox Christians in Kyiv, in search of saboteurs and weapons.
The Ukrainian Orthodox Church has recently come under scrutiny from Ukrainian officials who suspect that many priests are collaborating with Russia and worry that the church is promoting pro-Russian views.
That branch of the Eastern Orthodox Church followed spiritual leaders in Moscow up until this spring when it publicly broke allegiance with Russia over the war.
Still, many priests remain loyal to the Kremlin. As of last month, Ukrainian officials have said, 33 priests had been arrested for assisting Russia since the invasion began in February.
Most of them were charged with gathering intelligence and feeding it to Moscow’s forces. The Kremlin condemned last week’s raid, saying it was proof that Kyiv is at war with the Russian Orthodox Church.
New York Times News Service