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