[ditty_news_ticker id="27897"] UOC vicar of Kyiv Lavra released on bail and another UOC hierarch sentenced - Orthodox Christian Laity

UOC vicar of Kyiv Lavra released on bail and another UOC hierarch sentenced


Source: Peter Anderson, Seattle USA

On August 7, 2023, Metropolitan Pavlo, vicar of the Kyiv Lavra, was released from the Kyiv pretrial detention center following the posting of bail in the amount of UAH 33,300,000 ($902,183).  https://www.ukrinform.ua/rubric-society/3745466-mitropolit-pavlo-vijsov-izpid-varti-pid-zastavu-advokat.html   The attorney for Pavlo, Archpriest Nikita Chekman, posted the details on his Telegram site.  https://t.me/s/nikita_chekman  His description is as follows:

Today, August 7, 2023, the Vicar of the Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra was finally released from custody.  We will remind you that the Solomyansky district court of the city of Kyiv changed the preventive measure of Metropolitan Pavlo from 24-hour house arrest to detention with bail in the amount of UAH 33,300,000 – an unaffordable amount at first glance.  Details were published on the website of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, by which anyone could join and pay the bail for Metropolitan Pavlo, speeding up his release from the pre-trial detention center.  Today’s event is the collective merit of the parishioners of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, who proved that nothing is impossible. About 1,000 people made pledges!!!   

A method for contributing to the bail amount was posted at https://lavra.ua/uk/u-yuridichnomu-viddili-upts-poyasnili-yak-mozhna-doluchitisya-do-vnesennya-zastavi-za-mitropolita-pavla/  Presumably, the bail amount will be refunded by the court if the terms of the bailment are not violated by Metropolitan Pavlo.  Chekman also stated on his Telegram site that there were reports of many problems with financial institutions making the requested transfers of funds difficult.  Contributions were also collected through collection boxes that were placed at the Lavra and at many UOC churches in Ukraine.  From this, Chekman concluded that “millions of people” contributed to the bail amount.  A three minute video has also been posted of remarks by Chekman and Pavlo after the release on August 7.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GcbfCFF6lls  An English translation of some of the remarks by the Metropolitan can be read at https://spzh.news/en/news/75312-lavra-abbot-tearfully-thanks-all-those-who-prayed-for-his-release

Metropolitan Pavlo was initially placed under 24-hour house arrest by the Solomyansky district court on April 1.  The house arrest period was subsequently extended by the court twice.  During the house arrest, Metropolitan Pavlo was confined to his elegant home in the village of Voronkiv.  On July 14 the court changed the house arrest into confinement in the Kyiv pretrial detention center.  The prosecutor’s office requested this change because the Metropolitan had allegedly communicated with a witness in the criminal proceeding against him in a situation where the court had specifically prohibited such communications with witnesses.  https://t.me/s/press_kobl (July 13 entry)  Chekman visited the Metropolitan in the detention center on July 17.  As reported by the official website of the UOC, Chekman subsequently stated the Metropolitan’s health was satisfactory and that the Metropolitan’s “conditions of detention are absolutely civilized.”  https://news.church.ua/2023/07/17/advokat-namisnika-kijevo-pecherskoji-lavri-vidvidav-mitropolita-pavla-v-sizo-ta-rozpoviv-pro-stan-jogo-zdorovya/#2023-08-07

After the bail was set by the district court at UAH 33,300,000, the prosecutor’s office filed an appeal and contended that the bail should instead be UAH 60,000,000.  https://www.unn.com.ua/ru/news/2037950-prokuratura-prosit-zbilshiti-zastavu-dlya-mitropolita-upts-mp-pavla-do-60-mln-grn  A hearing on the appeal before the Kyiv Court of Appeals was set for August 7.  Because Metropolitan Pavlo did not appear at this hearing, the hearing was postponed until August 14.  https://tass.ru/obschestvo/18461013   This raises some interesting legal questions.  If the Court of Appeals finds on August 14 that the bail was set too low by the district court, would this mean that the Metropolitan must return to the detention center until the additional bail is raised?  On the other hand, is the issue of the appeal now moot because the Metropolitan has already been released on bail?  One must wait for an answer with respect to such questions.

The detention of Metropolitan Pavlo has been subject to considerable media attention in the Russian Federation.  On July 15, Patriarch Kirill wrote a letter to the primates of the Local Orthodox Churches and to other important leaders.  http://www.patriarchia.ru/db/text/6042462.html  The letter included the following:

A religious figure cannot and should not be subjected to such repressive measures for their religious beliefs.  I note with great concern that the change in the measure of restraint for Metropolitan Pavel, a man of advanced years [age 62], from house arrest to placement in custody threatens him with a serious deterioration in health and may lead to his death in a pre-trial detention center. 

On July 22, Patriarch Porfirije of Serbia responded by issuing his own strong appeal.  https://spc.rs/en/appeal-of-the-serbian-patriarch-porfirije-to-world-leaders-take-action-to-secure-the-release-of-the-metropolitan-of-vyshgorod-and-chernobyl-pavel/  He stated that the Metropolitan has been incarcerated and that this is a glaring example of human rights violations, based on who he is and his personal and religious identity.  Patriarch Porfirije called upon the religious and societal leaders of Europe and the world to advocate for the release of the Metropolitan.  On July 25, Patriarch Theodoros of Alexandia sent a reply to Patriarch Porfirije.  https://www.patriarchateofalexandria.com/varysimanto-gramma-toy-makar-patriarchoy-alexandreias-pros-ton-makar-patriarchi-servias/;  https://www.romfea.gr/epikairotita-xronika/58010-apantisi-patriarxi-aleksandreias-ston-patriarxi-servias  Theodoros compared the great concern that Porfirije has for the situation of Pavlo, while at the same time being completely silent on the actions of the Moscow Patriarchate in Africa.

While the release of Metropolitan Pavlo has decreased the concern about the plight of the Metropolitan, a new issue arose on August 7 with the sentencing UOC Metropolitan Ionafan of Tulchin.  He was sentenced to five years of imprisonment by the Vinnytsia City Court.   https://ssu.gov.ua/novyny/za-materialamy-sbu-do-5-rokiv-tiurmy-zasudzheno-mytropolyta-odniiei-z-vinnytskykh-yeparkhii-upts-mp-yakyi-vypravdovuvav-povnomasshtabne-vtorhnennia-rf  A video of the sentencing can be watched at  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VfGraOkhhGI&t=5s.  The trial began on June 8.  https://vn.20minut.ua/Kryminal/sud-po-spravi-mitropolita-tulchinskogo-ionafana-vidbulos-pershe-zasida-11828043.html   The metropolitan was defended by three attorneys.  The Metropolitan has stated his intention to file an appeal.  http://www.patriarchia.ru/db/text/6048488.html  The same day as the sentencing Patriarch Kirill issued a statement concerning the sentencing.  http://www.patriarchia.ru/db/text/6048460.html  The statement provides in part: “In this court decision dictated by hatred for the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, we see another act of blatant violation of religious freedom, an example of persecution of faith.  I once again call on the world community, religious and political leaders, and human rights organizations to pay attention to the purposeful policy of the Ukrainian authorities aimed at destroying the Ukrainian Orthodox Church….”  The Moscow Patriarchate’s official biography of Metropolitan Ionafan can be read at http://www.patriarchia.ru/db/text/52485.html   Ionafan was ordained a hieromonk by Kirill in Leningrad in 1978.

As a retired attorney, I find it difficult to evaluate the actions taken against Pavlo and Ionafan because neither side gives a detailed description of the evidence.  In the case of Ionafan, there were days of open trial in which the evidence in the case was presented or rebutted.  However, I cannot find on the Internet any detailed description of this evidence or rebuttal as presented in a court.  As far as I know the attorneys on neither side have given to the media any details of the evidence or rebuttals aside from enumerating the various laws under which the hierarch was charged.  Without knowing the evidentiary strength of these cases, it is very difficult to determine whether these prosecutions by the government involve “persecutions” or not.

Peter Anderson, Seattle USA



  1. People have to understand what this is all about. The Moscow Patriarchate has had this Lavra & many churches & clerics in Ukraine under its omophor. The Patriarch of Moscow, Pat. Kirill, has gone all-in with Putin in his attacks in Ukraine, blessing Putin’s atrocities. Ukraine has its own AUTOCEPHALOUS Orthodox Church and does not want to be under Moscow. The AUTOCEPHALOUS Ukrainian Orthodox Church is fully canonical and as far as it’s concerned, Moscow can go pound sand. Having clerics remaining under Moscow presents a security problem for Ukraine.

  2. Cato the Elder on

    The key here is: “Having clerics remaining under Moscow presents a security problem for Ukraine.”

    Ukraine is in a battle for survival not of its own choosing. In wartime, emergency measures are taken that would not otherwise be tolerated in a free society. Examples in America include the suspension of habeas corpus during the Civil War and the internment of Japanese Americans and press censorship during the Second World War. After the wars end, courts make rulings, apologies and reparations are offered, and history books are written.

    Aiding and abetting the enemy in wartime cannot be trumped by appeals to religious freedom and civil rights.

    Constantinople and Moscow may have sincere religious differences about how and by whom autocephaly may be granted, and they can duke it out at the next Holy and Great Council if they ever agree to attend one together.

    Meanwhile, Ukraine has every right to defend itself against “all enemies, foreign and domestic” during the war imposed on it by Putin’s Russia.

    Russian sympathizers in Ukraine are faced with hard choices. If they choose collaboration and spying for Russia, claims of religious freedom as a defense will not succeed .. unless Russia extinguishes Ukraine as a separate independent, sovereign country. If that happens, the spies and collaborators are awarded medals and the history books will be written in Russian.

  3. Regarding “AUTOCEPHALY” – Pat. Bart would have the Orthodox world believe that only he can grant autocephaly to a church, but this is wrong. In every territory where an Orthodox church has originated, as the church grew, it no longer became a “missionary church,” but ORGANICALLY grew and became an independent church organization with its own bishops & clerics following the same beliefs as all other Orthodox churches. In a territory or country where the church grew and declared itself autocephalous, the key to its independence was the RECOGNITION by all other Orthodox churches. Now, if the church has beliefs contrary to all other Orthodox churches, it may not be recognized, but if the same, there is no reason for NON-RECOGNITION. For instance, the autocephaly of the Orthodox Church in America, 1970, was ORGANIC. After the Russian Revolution, Pat. Tikhon of Moscow told all churches under his authority to act independently because the Russian Orthodox Church was under threat. In America, the ROC mission, the Metropolia operated independently since 1917. As more & more Orthodox arrived in America having their allegiance to their mother churches overseas, Orthodox church organization became chaotic without uniformity. So, in 1970, the bishops of SCOBA decided to form an autocephalous church that ALL the bishops would join. Representatives of this new church went to Constantinople/Istanbul to ask for their recognition & support. Their appeal was rebuffed. So, they went to Moscow for the same. The Pat. of Moscow agreed and even granted the new autocephalous Orthodox Church in America a tomos of autocephaly. The bishops of SCOBA joined the new OCA, but the Greeks and Antiochians reneged. Now, 53 years later, the Orthodox churches in North America are still not united administratively. All political and not based on theology or ANY Canon Law. American Orthodoxy is for ALL Americans regardless of nationalities. Foreign bishops have no basis for continued control over American churches.

  4. Cato the Elder on

    There appears to be a dispute about how and by whom Autocephaly is granted, taken and/or recognized.

    I believe that as the Ottoman Empire started falling apart, Churches in areas that achieved their independence and emerged as countries declared themselves Autocephalous as they no longer wished to remain under Constantinople under Turkish control. Eventually their Autocephaly was “recognized”. Some examples of when Autocephaly was recognized: Greece declared itself Autocephalous shortly after its 1821 War of Independence, it was finally recognized in 1850; Serbia was recognized in 1879; Romania in 1885.

    The Autocephaly given to the OCA by Moscow has not been recognized by Constantinople and others under Constantinople’s sway. While Moscow deemed some of its parishes in America worthy of Autocephaly, it decided to keep others under its control. How does that work? Why some and not others? If it made sense in 1970, why hasn’t Moscow decided to release them to the OCA even now?

    Is Autocephaly something that can be given and then taken back?

    Moscow doesn’t recognize the Autocephaly Constantinople recently granted to Ukraine. Moscow and Constantinople cite different canons in support of their own positions. The issue of how and by whom Autocephaly could be granted, seized, acknowledged, recognized.. whatever.. was placed on the agenda of the Holy and Great Council, but at the last minute, it was removed, because it threatened to sink the Council before it even met.. as it turned out Russia and others boycotted the Council in Crete in 2016 anyway,

    The only answer is found in OCL’s Declaration.. the Assembly of Bishops needs to declare itself to be a synod, elect its own presiding Hierarch, declare it is Autocephalous and ask the heads of the other Autocephalous Churches to recognize it as such.

    Waiting for Constantinople and Moscow to agree is futile. The Church in America can no longer delay what everyone knows is thye only canonical way forward.

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