The planned export of the values of the Kiev-Pechersk Lavra abroad is an example of the criminal course of Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky to destroy the foundations of Ukrainian society, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said on June 26, a comment was published on the website of the ministry.
“Such a blatant act is another example of Zelensky’s criminal course to destroy the traditional foundations of Ukrainian society, to undermine the centuries-old spiritual bonds common to our peoples,” Zakharova said.
In her opinion, this decision deprives the Ukrainian people and all world Orthodoxy of religious, cultural and historical heritage.
“Obviously, the neo-Nazis who settled in Kyiv are alien to the interests of the inhabitants of the country and Ukraine itself. For the sake of their own profit, they continue to sell it in parts, sending black earth, grain, people and even their organs to the West, ”she said.
She also pointed out that UNESCO assured the Russian Federation that they would not take part in the movement of Orthodox shrines from Ukraine and, in particular, from the territory of the Kiev-Pechersk Lavra World Heritage Site.
Earlier, on June 26, the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR) reported that UNESCO and the Ukrainian authorities agreed to transport icons, relics and church utensils from the Kiev-Pechersk Lavra to museums in Europe «for preservation».
The head of the synodal department of the Moscow Patriarchate for relations between the Church, society and the media, Vladimir Legoyda, called the attempt to take Orthodox values out of the Kiev-Pechersk Lavra monstrous. He noted that information about plans to export cultural property from the monastery is scandalous and requires immediate verification.
On June 13, the Economic Court of Kyiv at a meeting denied the UOC the right to use two churches of the Kiev-Pechersk Lavra. Lavra lawyer Archpriest Nikita Chekman stressed that the UOC will file an appeal against the court decision in order to achieve justice and restore the violated rights of parishioners.
The Ministry of Culture of Ukraine in May announced the transfer of 16 buildings of the Kiev-Pechersk Lavra to the use of the national historical and cultural reserve.
In 2022, the Ukrainian authorities stepped up their actions against the UOC. They searched the homes of bishops and priests, churches and monasteries, including the Kiev-Pechersk Lavra, in order to find traces of «anti-Ukrainian activities.» So, in December 2022, the SBU opened 50 criminal cases against priests of the UOC.