Ukrainian security forces raid medieval monastery

The home of a monastery dating back to the 11th century was raided by Ukrainian security services yesterday. The monks inside were accused of supporting the Russian invasion of the country.

Kyiv Pechersk Lavra is a monastery complex in the Ukrainian capital. It was originally founded as a cave monastery in 1051 by a Christian monk from Mount Athos, and throughout the Middle Ages was an important religious site. It is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site.


On Tuesday, members from the counterintelligence division of the Security Services of Ukraine (SBU) conducted a raid on the site, accusing the monks of supporting the Russian invasion. They seized “pro-Russian literature” as well as about cash in American, Russian and Ukrainian currency worth about $150,000 US.

“Over 50 people underwent in-depth counterintelligence interviews, including with the use of a polygraph,” the SBU said in a statement. “Among them were not only Ukrainian citizens, but also foreigners, in particular Russian citizens, who were on the territory of the church facilities.


“Some of them presented passports and military IDs of the USSR, or did not have original documents at all, but only copies of them, or had Ukrainian passports with indications of forgery or damage. In-depth checks are underway.”

Meanwhile, Russian religious and political authorities have condemned the raid. TASS, the Russian news agency, quoted one official as saying, “”The image of the Lavra as a pillar of spirituality has always been a beacon for people during the hardest times. And when it is being brazenly dragged into politics and pummeled with absurd accusations, this testifies to a complete moral degradation of the Kiev regime.”

The Russian invasion of Ukraine has often been tied to claims of Russian historical sovereignty over Ukrainian territory, often going back to the Middle Ages. There are also disputes between the Ukrainian and Russian Orthodox churches over the jurisdiction of the monastic site.

You can read more about medieval aspects of the Russian-Ukrainian war:

Ukraine as Europe: Medieval and Modern

The Russo-Ukrainian War and the Medievalist Community

What medieval warfare can teach us about the invasion of Ukraine

Top Image: Photo courtesy Security Services of Ukraine (SBU)