'This is lawlessness': Prayers at Kyiv monastery as eviction deadline expires

The Ukraine government has accused the Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra in Kyiv of maintaining links to Russia.
The Ukraine government has accused the Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra in Kyiv of maintaining links to Russia.   -  Copyright  Efrem Lukatsky/Copyright 2023 The AP. All rights reserved
By Euronews  with AFP

Hundreds of worshippers have attended a service at a historic Kyiv monastery, accused of maintaining links with Moscow, as the deadline for the eviction of its monks dawns.

Hundreds of worshippers have attended a service Wednesday at a historic Kyiv monastery, accused of maintaining links with Moscow, as the deadline for the eviction of its monks dawned.

Despite the church officially breaking ties with the Russian Patriarchate after the invasion of Ukraine last year, Kyiv has said it is still de facto dependent on Moscow.

The government announced it was terminating the lease that allowed the monks to occupy part of the Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra for free, giving them until 29 March to leave.

Under a light snowfall, worshippers gathered in and outside the 11th-century golden-domed church to attend morning mass.

This is clearly political. We will protect it, this is our sanctuary
Parishioner

"This is lawlessness... a Godless government persecutes us Orthodox people".

The ancient cave monastery, which overlooks the Dnipro River, has played a crucial role in both Ukrainian and Russian history.

As in previous days, the police were checking entries and opening car boots, but visitors were allowed in and out.

In a video message last week, Metropolitan Pavlo, the director of the Lavra, called on the faithful to "defend this holy place with us".

The monks have said they would remain as long as physically possible.

For more watch Euronews' report in the video above.

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