The Church in Ukraine

Andriy Pavlenko, an Orthodox church abbot.was working actively to kill Ukrainian soldiers and Ukrainian activists, including a priest from a rival Orthodox church in his city, Sievierodonetsk

He needs to be killed,” he wrote of the rival priest, according to evidence introduced at his trial in a Ukrainian court, showing he had sent lists to the Russian Army of people to round up once the city was occupied. Mr. Pavlenko was convicted as a spy this month and then traded with Russia in a prisoner exchange.


His was hardly an isolated case. In the past month, the authorities have arrested or publicly identified as suspects more than 30 clergymen and nuns of the Ukrainian arm of the Russian Orthodox Church.

To the Ukrainian security services, the Russian-aligned church, one of the country’s two major Orthodox churches, poses a uniquely subversive threat — a widely trusted institution that is not only an incubator of pro-Russia sentiment but is also infiltrated by priests, monks and nuns who have aided Russia in the war

The Russian Orthodox Church is in reality a tool of Russian aggression,” Archbishop Yevstratiy, a spokesman for the Orthodox Church of Ukraine, said in an interview in the St. Michael’s Golden Domed Monastery in Kyiv.

Outside military analysts have seen reason for Ukraine’s concern. The church of the Moscow Patriarchate “materially supported Russia’s annexation of Crimea and the invasion of Eastern Ukraine,” the Institute for the Study of War, a U.S.-based analytical group, wrote in a research note on the role of the Russian-affiliated church in the war.

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