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    Justice Ministry to check UOC (MP)’s lease contract for property of lower Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra

    The Ministry of Justice will vet the contract of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church in unity with the Moscow Patriarchate on the lease of the property of the lower Lavra. The term of the contract is not specified, which can be considered a legal violation.

    Yevhenia Kravchuk, deputy head of the parliamentary committee on humanitarian and information policy, said this in a comment to Ukrinform.

    “In the case of the upper Lavra, the contract simply ended and was not renewed. Regarding the lower Lavra, the Cabinet of Ministers decree was adopted (in 2013 – ed.), and the lease agreement itself does not specify the expiration date. Even if the lease is for an indefinite period, it should be indicated in the document, but it is not there,” Kravchuk said.

    Experts with the Ministry of Justice will be involved in the verification of the contract. They will analyze whether the document fully complies with current legislation, because any contract has certain deadlines.

    According to Yevhenia Kravchuk, at the end of January, the Interdepartmental Working Group, which is developing proposals for the operation of churches, will report on its work.

    Currently, the government is working on a draft law that will allow banning in a court of law the activity of religious organizations (Churches) subordinate to Russia.

    “There is parliamentary work, but we are waiting for the Cabinet of Ministers to file the draft law, which is being prepared by the Ministry of Justice. This text is in the final stage. It still has to go through processing with various departments. I hope that he will appear in January,” said Kravchuk.

    The freedom of conscience watchdog also expects the inspection of the UOC MP for compliance with church canons to be completed, including in terms of establishing whether it has ties with Moscow and the Russian Orthodox Church. The Culture Ministry will also present conclusions on the existence of violations of monument protection legislation, in particular, “on the issue of restoration works – whether they were carried out with the appropriate permits, on issues of construction and demolition of structures.”

    At the end of December 2022, the Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra State Reserve informed the UOC MP that from January 1, it will not renew the contract with it regarding the Assumption Cathedral and the Tabernacle Church in the Upper Lavra.

    Kravchuk also said that the government will investigate illegal construction on the territory of lower Lavra and Pochaiv Lavra. She is convinced that the Russian Orthodox Church cannot exist on the territory of Ukraine, because it is actually a unit of the FSB.

    Earlier, the Verkhovna Rada committee recommended that a draft law on banning the Russian Orthodox Church in Ukraine be adopted.

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