Ukrainian Security Forces Storm Historic Orthodox Church in ‘Counterintelligence’ Raid
© AP Photo / Felipe DanaSecurity Service of Ukraine (SBU) servicemen enter a building during an operation to arrest suspected "Russian collaborators" in Kharkov, Ukraine
© AP Photo / Felipe Dana
The notorious Ukrainian security forces responsible for rounding up supposed ‘Russian collaborators’ appear to have been given a new target: Orthodox priests and parishioners.
Ukraine's SBU security forces raided a 1,000-year-old Orthodox Christian monastery in Kiev on Tuesday in what they described as efforts to neutralize supposed “subversive activities by Russian special services.”
The main target of the raids, the Kiev Monastery of the Caves, was built in 1051 and is classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. But it wasn’t the only church affected – Kiev regime forces also hit the monastery in Korets on Tuesday, alongside several other Ukrainian Orthodox Churches in the region.
Vladimir Legoida, a spokesman for the Russian Orthodox Church, denounced the raid by Kiev regime forces as an “act of intimidation.”
"Like many other cases of persecution of believers in Ukraine since 2014, this act of intimidation of believers is almost certain to go unnoticed by those who call themselves the international human rights community," Legoida noted.
The Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) insisted in a post on Telegram that “these measures are being taken... to counter the destructive activities of Russian special services in Ukraine.”
The statement declined to mention what – if any – contraband was recovered, but cited suspicions "about the use of the premises ... for sheltering sabotage and reconnaissance groups, foreign citizens, weapons storage."
The Ukrainian Orthodox Church attempted to cut ties with the Russian Orthodox Church in May following a split over ongoing hostilities between Russia and Ukraine. However, that seems to have done little to alleviate suspicions among the Zelensky regime that churchgoers secretly sympathize with the Russian perspective, because it’s far from the first time Orthodox priests or parishioners have felt their wrath.
In October, one pro-Kiev militant told Al Jazeera that a similar raid on an Orthodox Church in the city of Sviatohirsk was necessary because “we see all these monks as Russian agents — so there’s a very high chance they’ve been hiding collaborators.”