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Orthodox monks expelled from Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra monastery refuse to leave

People pray in the Kyiv Pechersk Lavra monastery complex in Kyiv, Ukraine, Wednesday, March 29, 2023.
People pray in the Kyiv Pechersk Lavra monastery complex in Kyiv, Ukraine, Wednesday, March 29, 2023. Copyright Andrew Kravchenko/Copyright 2023 The AP. All rights reserved.
Copyright Andrew Kravchenko/Copyright 2023 The AP. All rights reserved.
By Euronews with EBU
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The Ukrainian government has accused the monks of supporting Moscow and maintaining links with the Russian Orthodox Church.

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Monks of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church expelled from Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra monastery are refusing to leave, amid a dispute over their government-ordered eviction.

The Ukrainian government has accused the religious order of supporting Moscow and maintaining links with the Russian Orthodox Church and ordered the monks to leave the site by last Wednesday at the latest.

"They don't have the right to kick us out. Yesterday we received a letter from the UN, which says, we can stay in Lavra until the court is over, until the decision is made by the court," said the Vicegerent of the Lavra Metropolitan Pavel.

"If we win, we win, if they win, we will be appealing," he added.

Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra monastery is the seat of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (UOC), and Ukraine's most revered Orthodox site.

Authorities in Kyiv claim that the monks violated their lease by making alterations to the historic site and other technical infractions - which the clerics deny.

The Ukrainian government has been cracking down on the UOC over its historic ties to the Russian Orthodox Church, whose leader, Patriarch Kirill, has supported Russian President Vladimir Putin in the invasion of Ukraine.

Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Thursday that Moscow was closely watching events in Kyiv: 

"We resolutely condemn these actions. We condemn the pressure that is being exerted on the clergy and on the Russian Orthodox Church. If they are evicted from the Lavra, then everything will depend on their decision, what they will do next."

"However, of course, I have no doubt that no one in Russia will remain indifferent to their fate, if necessary," Peskov stressed. 

The dispute over Ukraine's most revered Orthodox site is part of a wider religious conflict playing out in parallel with the war.

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