MOSCOW, March 16. /TASS/. The United Nations Secretariat needs to be more balanced in how it treats information with regard to the Ukraine issue, otherwise Russia will question its impartiality at a session of the General Assembly’s Committee on Information, Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova wrote on Telegram on Thursday.
Earlier, the UN secretary general’s spokesperson Stephane Dujarric said that the Secretariat was unable to comment on the Ukrainian authorities’ demand that monks affiliated with the Ukrainian Orthodox Church leave the Kiev-Pechersk Lavra monastery. "If you cannot give a comment after the monks made a direct appeal to the international community in several languages, Stephane, then you should probably admit being biased in order not to frame the United Nations because it means either a complete loss of qualifications or that there is a political agenda in place. Regularly saying that you don’t know anything about developments in Ukraine, while your chief visits Kiev on a regular basis (the last trip taking place as recently as March 8), means causing distrust in the UN and its Secretariat," Zakharova pointed out.
On March 10, an eviction notice from the acting director general of the Kiev-Pechersk Lavra Historical and Cultural Reserve (subordinate to the Ukrainian Culture Ministry) was published on the monastery’s website, stating that monks affiliated with the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church must leave the Holy Dormition Kiev-Pechersk Lavra by March 29, when the current lease expires. According to the document, a working group that identified a violation of the lease terms had been created by Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky’s decree. Father Superior of the Kiev-Pechersk Lavra Metropolitan Pavel said on March 13 that the monks would not comply with the order to leave the monastery. On March 14, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov sent letters to UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres and OSCE Chairperson-in-Office Bujar Osmani, urging them to demand that Kiev stop its arbitrariness against the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church. Dujarric said in response to a TASS request for comment on Lavrov’s letter that the UN chief believed every country should ensure religious freedom and protect religious sites.