Eastern Europe Geopolitical Watch – From 11 March to 16 March 2023

Eastern Europe monitoring team : Séverine Ly, Vladimir Krsmanovic, Olivier Husson, Claire Aréthuse, Olga Chekhurska, Valérian Cerino, Sarah Wilpotte, Fiona Bessioud, Elisabeth Nagy

The files we follow: Ukrainian domestic policy ; EU-Ukraine relations and Ukraine/Russia conflict resolution process; Foreign policy of Belarus, Russian army in Belarus and Belarus-Ukraine relationship ; United Transitional Cabinet of Free Belarus and the Belarusian diaspora; Domestic Policy of Belarus and political prisoners ; Safe point in Ukraine ; Political situation in Crimea and the “Donbass republics” in the context of the war in Ukraine; Situation in Transnistria/ Moldova; EU-Balkan relations; Foreign policies of Kosovo, Serbia and Albania; Human rights and the fight against corruption in Eastern Europe; Energy, nuclear and renewable energy issues in Eastern Europe.

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– Ukrainian domestic policy – Olga Chekhurska-

Monks of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church attached until recently to the Moscow Patriarchate could be expelled from the Kyiv Pechersk Lavra monastery.

The National Reserve of the Kyiv Pechersk Lavra Monastery has sent a warning letter demanding the monks of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church currently occupying the monastery to leave the premises before 29 March.  The reason for this was that the Ukrainian Orthodox Church located on the territory of the Lavra violated the terms of use of state property. The Pechersk Lavra Monastery is the oldest monastery in Kyiv and the residence of the Primate of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church. It accommodates monks who are part of the branch of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church attached before the war to the Moscow Patriarchate. The National Reserve of the Monastery justifies this step by the conclusions of the interdepartmental working group which found a violation by the Church of the terms of the agreement concerning the use of state assets.

Metropolitan Kliment, spokesman of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, said that monks of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church could not be expelled from the monastery “because there is no legal justification for it.” “As for the work of the mentioned interdepartmental working group, the content of its conclusions has not been reported anywhere, and they were obviously written in a biassed manner and in flagrant violation of legal norms. Thus, the only reason for the resettlement of monks from an Orthodox sanctuary is only a whim of the officials of the Ministry of Culture, as was the case under the Soviet regime in the 60s” said Metropolitan Kliment.

Metropolitan Pavel (Lebed), governor of the Kyiv Pechersk Lavra Monastery, said that the monks of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church will not leave the place. “We have no intention of moving and we will not, because now there are laws that protect people, we are not in 1917. Today, there is a global community, there is a kind of culture” said Metropolitan Pavel in a video message posted on the Lavra’s YouTube channel.

According to the head of the Russian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Kirill, the request to leave the Kyiv Pechersk Lavra Monastery is comparable to the persecution of faith in times of impiety. He described the ultimatum as “a monstrous act” and the actions of the Ukrainian authorities as anarchy and disrespect for the rights of their fellow citizens.

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