Russian-led Orthodox Church metropolitan released from custody

Moscow-backed Orthodox Metropolitan Pavlo (Petro Lebid) was released from custody on a Hr 33.3 million ($290,000) bail, Lebid’s lawyer Mykyta Chekman said on Aug. 7.

According to Chekman, the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate (UOC-MP) collected donations from the parishioners to post bail for Lebid, with over 1,000 people allegedly contributing to the cause.

Metropolitan Pavlo is accused of inciting hatred, justifying Russia’s war against Ukraine, and discriminating against citizens based on their religious beliefs.

He was taken into custody with the option to post bail on July 14 after spending more than three months under a 24-hour house arrest.

Russian-led Orthodox Church metropolitan released from custody

Following the court’s hearing that led to his detention, Metropolitan Pavlo said he didn’t have the money for bail. However, according to prosecutors, Lebid owns property worth a total of around $1.6 million.

Ukraine’s Security Service (SBU) said that Lebid had repeatedly offended the religious beliefs of Ukrainians, humiliated the views of believers of other confessions, and supported Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Lebid has held consistent pro-Russian views and called for “unity” with Russia. He has also said that “Crimea has never been Ukrainian."

Since November last year, the SBU has conducted dozens of raids on Moscow Patriarchate churches, including the 980-year-old Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra. During the searches, the SBU found Russian propaganda, xenophobic literature, as well as Russian passports of the church’s leaders and documents with pro-Russian ideological messages.