Ukrainian SBU raids Russian Orthodox monastery in Kiev

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The Ukrainian intelligence and security service SBU, together with the National Police and National Guard, raided ‘Kiev Cave Monastery’ on Tuesday morning. According to the services, the raid is part of an action involving counterintelligence.

“There is an increasing risk of terrorist attacks, sabotage and hostage-taking, especially in places where many people gather,” the SBU said in a press release. “The raid should prevent the monastery from being used as a cell of the ‘Russian world’. We’ve searched the site to make sure it’s not home to sabotage and reconnaissance cells, foreign individuals, prohibited weapons, and so on. In this way we protect the population against provocations and acts of terrorism.”

The ‘Kiev Cave Monastery’ was founded in 1051 in the hills of the Ukrainian capital. The monastery is a ‘lavra’ meaning it is an important religious center. This lavra is the seat of the Ukrainian branch of the Russian Orthodox Church.

According to the SBU, the search was carried out with the cooperation of representatives of the Church. All actions took place within the framework of current legislation. We emphasize that in its activities the SBU respects the right to religion, as stated in the Constitution of Ukraine.’

In a response, the Russian Orthodox Church calls the raid an “act of intimidation.” “There have been persecutions of believers in Ukraine since 2014,” said spokesman Vladimir Legoida. “I’m sure this act of intimidation will again go unnoticed by those who call themselves the ‘international human rights community’.”

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