Ukraine says no eviction ‘by force’ of Kyiv monks

March 30, 2023

KYIV: Monks accused of maintaining links with Moscow will not be violently evicted from their historic monastery in the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv said on Wednesday.


The government announced it would terminate the lease allowing the monks to occupy part of the Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra for free on March 29, but said the eviction process could take weeks. Under a light snowfall, hundreds of worshippers gathered in and outside the 11th-century golden-domed church to attend morning mass led by Metropolitan Pavlo.

“I want to assure you: the law is on our side. According to the law, to the constitution, they cannot evict us,” he said. “The case is in the hands of the courts... They don´t have the right to kick out clerics... until a judicial decision is reached,” he added.

The ancient cave monastery, which overlooks the Dnipro River, has played a crucial role in both Ukrainian and Russian history. Despite the church officially breaking ties with the Russian Patriarchate after the invasion of Ukraine last year, Kyiv believes it is still de facto dependent on Moscow.

The monks said they would remain as long as physically possible, raising fears of a confrontation as the eviction deadline loomed. On Wednesday the situation at the monastery was calm.