KIEV, December 8. /TASS/. The Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) has launched another criminal case on charges of high treason after its raid on churches and monasteries of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, SBU said on its official Telegram channel on Thursday.
"The security service has completed its counter-intelligence measures at facilities belonging to the UOC-MP [the Ukrainian Orthodox Church - Moscow Patriarchate] in the regions of Kherson [joined Russia after a referendum], Cherkassy, Zhitomir and Volyn," the statement says.
The service claimed that a search in one of UOC-MP cathedrals revealed that some of its priests had Russian passports, issued earlier this year.
"Criminal proceedings have been launched in accordance with Part 2 Article 111 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine [state treason, committed during the period of martial law]," SBU said.
The security service also claimed that one monastery had "a library with propagandist books of Russian authors," while another stored Russian schoolbooks and texts of prayers for Russia.
Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky issued a decree on December 1 to enact a resolution of the National Security and Defense Council on Certain Aspects of the Activities of Religious Organizations in Ukraine and the Application of Personal Special Economic and Other Restrictive Measures (Sanctions), essentially aimed at banning the UOC. More specifically, he issued orders to submit a bill to parliament on banning "religious organizations affiliated with centers of influence in the Russian Federation," stepping up "measures to identify and counter subversive activities by Russian special services in Ukraine’s religious sphere," and scrutinizing the Charter governing the Ukrainian Orthodox Church for signs of ecclesiastical and canonic links with the Moscow Patriarchate.
Recently, Ukrainian law enforcement agencies conducted a series of raids against UOC churches, including at the Kiev-Pechersk Lavra. The Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) claims that "pro-Russian literature and millions in cash," as well as materials denying the existence of Ukraine" were found.