MOSCOW, June 7. /TASS/. A wooden monastic settlement near the Svyatogorsk Laura, one of the holiest sites of the Russian Orthodox Church, was torched by Ukrainian nationalists, a Russian Defense Ministry official said on Tuesday, citing eyewitness testimony from monks and residents of Svyatogorsk.
"Eyewitness testimony provided by locals and monks" in the city of Svyatogorsk proves that the All Saints monastic settlement was set on fire by Ukrainian nationalists on June 5, said Major General Igor Konashenkov.
Monks, as well as local militia, had been trying to put out the fire, but nationalists would not allow them by opening fire, the general said.
Being aware that Russian troops do not target religious and cultural sites, Ukrainian nationalists sought to use the Orthodox Christian shrine as a cover and shield, he said.
"The local population was outraged by" nationalists’ behavior. "They demanded that troops leave the Laura to prevent its destruction," Konashenkov said.