The Ukrainian government has terminated the lease of the Monastery of the Caves, known as Pechersk Lavra, causing an uproar as the Orthodox monks living there are now facing eviction. The monastery is one of the most significant religious sites in Ukraine and has been the spiritual home of Orthodox monks for centuries. The government alleges that the monks still maintain ties to the Russian Orthodox Church, despite the Ukrainian Orthodox Church cutting ties with the Moscow Patriarchate last year over Russian activities in the country.
The abbot of the monastery, Pavlo Lebid, has stated that they have no intention of abandoning the property. However, some of the bulkier items in the monastery are being moved in case of the eviction’s occurrence on March 29th. “Many of us have no place other than the Lavra; it is our home. For us, this decision has been a heavy blow,” says Avel, one of the monks of the monastery.
Russia has condemned the actions of the government of Ukraine, with Vladimir Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, calling these measures “outrageous decisions.” The Russian Foreign Minister, Sergei Lavrov, appealed to the UN and the OSCE to denounce the situation as a violation of the constitutional rights of Orthodox believers in Ukraine.
The eviction of the monks has sparked outrage and protests throughout the country as many view it as an attack on their faith and cultural heritage. As of now, it remains unclear what actions the government will take, and the fate of the monks and the monastery is uncertain.