Filaret asks Yanukovych to prevent transfer of Kyiv Pechersk Lavra, Pochayiv Lavra to Moscow Patriarchate


Head of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (Kyiv Patriarchate) Filaret has called on Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych to prevent the transfer of some national holy places to the Moscow Patriarchate by parliament.

“I’m addressing you as a guarantor of constitutional rights on behalf of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Kyiv Patriarchate, with a strong request to take all of the measures foreseen by the law to prevent the adoption and putting into effect of a provocative bill, No. 9690,” reads an open letter from Patriarch Filaret to the president published on the Web site of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church.

According to the letter, behind “its nice name” bill No. 9690, on amendments to some laws of Ukraine (regarding the transfer of cultural heritage to religious organizations), is intended “to expand the privatization of Ukrainian national holy places, such as Kyiv Pechersk Lavra, Pochayiv Lavra, Bohoyavlensky monastery in Kremenets, by Moscow Patriarchate.”

“There is no legal guarantee that the Ukrainian holy places that were formally passed to the ownership of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Moscow Patriarchate will not become the property of the Russian structure – the Moscow Eparchy,” reads the letter.

“Numerous examples, including the price of natural gas and the fight against Ukrainian cheese, demonstrate to us the unfriendly policy of the current Russian leaders against Ukraine. I think that the wish of the Kremlin to seize control over Ukraine’s gas transport system, join it to the enslaving Customs Union, and the initiative to privatize Ukrainian holy places by the Moscow Patriarchate are similar.”

Patriarch Filaret also said that the authors of the bill argue that it is in line with European recommendations regarding the restitution of the church’s property.

“But their references to these recommendations have no grounds, as their bill is aimed not at finding a full solution to the issue of restitution, but at passing holy places of the Ukrainian people to a specific church,” reads the letter.

The patriarch sent the same letters to the Cabinet of Ministers and the Verkhovna Rada, Ukraine’s parliament.

As reported, in January 2012 bill No. 9690 on the return of cultural heritage to religious organizations was registered in the parliament.

According to the document, the Cabinet of Ministers within three months has to tackle the issues of passing the facilities in Kremenets district, the Sviato-Bohoyavlensky nunnery of Ternopil Eparchy and the Holy Dormition Pochayiv Lavra, and the Holy Dormition Church in Kyiv Pechersk Lavra in Kyiv to the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Moscow Patriarchate, without the right for alienation and a change in the facilities’ appropriation.

Regions Party MPs Andriy Derkach, Vasyl Horbal, and Dmytro Shentsev, member of the People’s Party faction Serhiy Hrynevetsky, member of the Communist Party faction Oleksandr Holub, and Head of the Reforms for Future deputy’s group Ihor Rybakov are the authors of the bill.