Has Kyiv reached agreement with UNESCO on the removal of holy relics from the Kyiv Pechersk Lavra?

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Reading Time: 4 minutes


On June 26, the Kremlin propaganda media outlets (Новости Первого канала, tass.ru, iz.ru, rbc.ru)  published a story, based on Russia’s Foreign Intelligence Service, about an agreement reached between the Kyiv authorities and UNESCO. According to the information, Kyiv and UNESCO agreed on the removal of Christian valuables from the territory of Kyiv Pechersk Lavra for safekeeping, and consequently, the holy relics from the Lavra will be transferred to museums in Italy, France, Germany, and the Vatican. 

Identical stories were shared on Facebook by Russian-speaking (1, 2, 3, 4) and Georgian-speaking (1, 2, 3, 4) users.

The information about the removal of holy relics from the Kyiv Pechersk Lavra to the EU is not true. The Minister of Culture of Ukraine, Oleksandr Tkachenko, and the Director of the Kyiv Pechersk Lavra, Maksym Ostapenko, denied the information about reaching the agreement. Information about the agreement reached between the Kyiv authorities and UNESCO cannot be found on the webpage of UNESCO either.

  • The story about the removal of holy relics from the Kyiv Pechersk Lavra to the EU is disinformation

On June 26, on his personal Facebook page, the Minister of Culture of Ukraine posted his comment on the information circulating in the media alleging that the agreement was reached between Kiev and UNESCO on the removal of Christian valuables, including holy relics, from the Kyiv Pechersk Lavra to European countries. According to Oleksandr Tkachenko, the only concern at present is to protect the Kyiv Pechersk Lavra from the Russian world.

Oleksandr Tkachenko: “The only task that faces us now regarding the Lavra is to protect it from the Russian measure and finally make sure that all our Ukrainian sacred relics are in place. No sacred value will leave the territory of Ukraine. And everything stolen from Russia will have to be returned.”

On June 27, a statement denying the allegation was also published on the website of the Ministry of Culture of Ukraine, which was shared by the Facebook page of the Ukrainian National Commission for UNESCO too.

Maksym Ostapenko, the acting General Director of the Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra Reserve, commented on the information released by Russian news agencies and Telegram channels. According to Ostapenko, there are no such plans regarding the Kyiv Pechersk Lavra, and the sacred relics of Ukraine are in place. “The authorities do everything possible to protect this monument, including from Russian aggressors,” said Maksym Ostapenko.

Information about an agreement reached between Kyiv and UNESCO on the removal of relics from the Kyiv Pechersk Lavra to European countries cannot be found on UNESCO’s official webpage. With the Russia-Ukraine war waging, UNESCO is making efforts to support the protection of cultural institutions and ensure the maintenance of education in Ukraine.

On January 5, 2023, the Ministry of Culture of Ukraine made a decision to return the Cathedral of the Assumption and the Refectory Church of the Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra to state ownership. This decision came after a search was conducted in churches in Kyiv and other regions that were subordinate to the Moscow Patriarchate. The Ukrainian Orthodox Church was ordered to leave the territory of Lavra by March 29; however, they did not obey the order. In mid-April, the Ministry of Culture launched an inspection for the Kyiv Pechersk Lavra. The commission on the delivery and acceptance of the state property of Kyiv Pechersk Lavra completed its work on June 5 and signed the delivery-acceptance act.

Propagandist messages regarding the abovementioned process posted on social networks alleged that Ukraine was fighting against Orthodox Christianity, and therefore, the crosses of the Kyiv Pechersk Lavra turned black. A conspiracy video was also shared, alleging that the increase in flocks of crows in Kyiv was the result of antireligious acts by the Ukrainian authorities caused. For a full account, see Myth Detector’s articles:

About the source:

The Facebook account ფანტინა ფანტინა [“Fantina fantina”], along with its other accounts (1, 2), has repeatedly shared misinformative posts. For a full account, see Myth Detector’s articles:

The Facebook account ნი ხუნდაძე [“Ni Khundadze”] supports the Conservative Movement and its TV channel, Alt-Info. The account often posts anti-Western information and justifies Russia’s military intervention in Ukraine. Nini Khundadze has posted false information in the past too.

Facebook user Levan tavdishvili regularly posts false anti-Western and anti-Ukrainian information as well as conspiracy theories.

Archive links: rbc.ru iz.ru tass.ru

The article has been written in the framework of Facebook’s fact-checking program. You can read more about the restrictions that Facebook may impose based on this article via this link. You can find information about appealing or editing our assessment via this link.

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Violation: Disinformation
Country: Russia, Ukraine

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