On March 13-16, Russian propaganda media (РИА НОВОСТИ, РОССИЯ 1, MK.RU, bloknot.ru, СПЖ) reported that the crosses of the Kyiv Pechersk Lavra have blackened. In the articles, this phenomenon is linked to the expulsion of the priests of the Moscow Patriarchate from the church, claiming that the event is the divine punishment for the priest of the Kyiv Patriarchate for conducting divine worship in the church.
Information about the blackening of the crosses was also disseminated by the Facebook page of the Georgian Kremlin party “Conservative Movement Rustavi” and other Georgian- (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7) and Russian-language (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6) Facebook users.
The claim that the blackening of the crosses on the dome of the Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra is linked to the expulsion of the priests of the Moscow Patriarchate from the church and the performance of the service by the priest of the Kyiv Patriarchate is a conspiracy. The crosses of the dome are gilded, and the process of blackening started years ago, as the last restoration of the temple took place in the early 1970s. A photo from 2017 can also be found on the Internet, in which it can be seen that the crosses were darkened before as well.
The crosses of the dome of the Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra started to be blackened years ago because they need restoration
Initially, the information about the blackening of the crosses of the Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra dome was disseminated by the Union of Orthodox Journalists (UOJ). UOJ published an article on this topic on March 13, based on Metropolitan Pavel (known as Паша “Мерседес”[Pasha “Mercedes]) of Vyshgorod and Chernobyl. Metropolitan Pavel, who is a hierarch of the Moscow Patriarchate (УПЦ МП) notes that the crosses turned black on March 13 and connects this phenomenon with the “service” performed by a cleric of the Kyiv Patriarchate in the Cathedral.
“Today, even in the refectory church, the crosses turned black after the “service” performed by such a “great” Ukrainian – noted Metropolitan Pavel with the UOJ.
Ukrainian media tsn.ua spoke to Konstantin Krainy, Deputy General Director for Research of the National Reserve of Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra. The Refectory Church of Saints Anthony and Theodosius of the Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra was built in 1893-95, but according to Konstantin Krainy, the crosses have been in this condition for years, as the restoration is associated with large sums of money and was last carried out in the early 1970s.
Konstantin Krainy: “The crosses have been dark for many years, because they were gilded in the 60s. The last restoration took place in the late 60s – early 70s. For the last 20 years they look like this. Gilding is a very expensive job. For example, For example, for about 10 years, they gilded the cross on the large Lavra bell tower, so it looks bright. The crosses on the Refectory Church have not been updated lately. Last year we leveled them because they leaned a little.”
It should be noted that gold is a soft and highly plastic metal, and in the case where the surface is covered with a thin layer of gold, it may wear out over time.
On January 7, 2023, the website of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine (ПЦУ КП) published information about the celebration of the Christmas Divine Liturgy by Metropolitan Epiphanes in the Cathedral of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary in the Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra. The attached photos clearly show that the crosses on the dome of the cathedral were already darkened on January 7.
In addition, photos taken in different years, available on the internet, also demonstrate that the crosses of the dome have darkened over the years. One can also find a photo of Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra in the 2017 article of Worldatlas.com. The dome crosses are already darkened in the photo.
A shot of blacked-out crosses also appears at the beginning of a 2018 story by Polish television company TVN24, in which it is said that the Ukrainian parliament supported President Petro Poroshenko’s appeal to Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople to grant autocephaly to the Orthodox Church of Ukraine.
Metropolitan Eustratiy Zorya, subordinate to the Kyiv Patriarchate, responded to this issue on his Facebook page. He also attached photos taken at different times to the post and noted that the crosses were blackened during the presence of priests subordinate to the Moscow Patriarchate.
Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra and the Assumption Cathedral returned to the state on January 5, 2023
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. The Minister of Culture of Ukraine, Alexander Tkachenko, reported via “Telegram”.
The refectory church and the Cathedral of the Assumption were handed over to the Ukrainian Orthodox Church – Moscow Patriarchate (УПЦ МП) in 2016. The lease agreement expired on December 31, 2022. In December, it became known that the Ukrainian Orthodox Church under the Moscow Patriarchate would be deprived of the leased churches. This was preceded by a search process in Kyiv and other regions. Clerics subordinate to the Moscow Patriarchate were accused of propagating the “Russian world” in the churches.
The said process was used by Russian propaganda to disseminate false claims, as if Ukraine is fighting against Orthodoxy. In this regard, a conspiracy video was circulated, as if the anti-religious actions of the Ukrainian authorities caused the proliferation of crows in Kyiv. For more information, see “Myth Detector” articles:
- The Origin and Context of the Video Showing Flocks of Dark-colored Birds
- Does the Ukrainian Government Fight against Orthodoxy or the Influence of Russia?
About the Sources
Facebook user Fanti Na and its other accounts (1, 2, 3) have disseminated disinformation on various topics in the past. Fantina was one the anti-vaxx accounts that began spreading Russian-backed conspiracy theories and disinformation after the war in Ukraine.
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