Channel 5 recalls stocktaking at Kyiv Lavra after libel action

13 May 2020 22:53
In response to the lawsuit for libel against the UOC, Channel 5 employees released a new anti-church plot. Photo: video screenshot on Channel 5 In response to the lawsuit for libel against the UOC, Channel 5 employees released a new anti-church plot. Photo: video screenshot on Channel 5

The Channel 5 journalists released a story about the “theft” of icons and relics from Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra and upon that accused the UOC hierarch of threats against them.

On May 11, 2020, Channel 5 published a story which was called an “investigation” of the theft of icons from the Holy Dormition Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra. This "investigation", the recording of which can be viewed on the YouTube channel "Channel 5", was a kind of response to the lawsuit filed by the abbot of the Kyiv Lavra, Metropolitan Paul (Lebed) of Vyshgorod and Chornobyl on libel against the UOC.

Channel 5 reporters said they had learned about the lawsuit, but instead of trying to somehow refute accusations of defamation against the Church, they offered their audience another anti-church video “Who stole the icons from the Kyiv Pechersk Lavra? – an investigation.”

“We are waiting for the trial and are ready to defend our position there. And we hope that the judicial review of this case will be faster than red tape in another case that has been under investigation for 2 years now. This is the case of missing valuables from the Kyiv-Pechersk Reserve,” presenter Anna Miroshnichenko said in the Results of the Week program.

The plot is about stocktaking initiated in 2018 by the former Minister of Culture of Ukraine Yevgeny Nishchuk, following which there was announced the disappearance of 10 items from the Assumption Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra – the icons from the late 19th century, a wooden cross and a chalice.

However, the journalist of Channel 5, Anna Rybalka, told the audience that rumors are swirling about the theft of not only icons but also relics.

“Possible export to Russia of not only parts of the Pechersk icons but also the relics of saints was previously announced by both the former leadership of the Reserve and the MPs. They said that the state had lost control over its own shrines,” she said.

In her “investigation”, the journalist also mentioned a petition regarding the transfer of the Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra to the OCU, which had been previously posted on the website of the President of Ukraine.

“The Ministry of Culture has the right to check, while the State Security Service of Ukraine has the right to institute criminal cases if something is missing. And if this happens on a regular basis, at least the Caves could be removed from the jurisdiction of the UOC,” said in her storyTatyana Popova, an expert from the Information Security public organization.

Rybalka also accused the Head of the Information and Education Department, Metropolitan Clement (Vecheria) of Nizhyn and Pryluky that instead of “responding to a high-profile investigation” he allegedly uttered threats. However, in the audio recording of the journalist’s conversation with Metropolitan Clement, it is clearly audible that he did not voice any threats but only reminded her of the criminal liability for inciting inter-religious hatred.

“The Information and Education Department does not give any comments to Channel 5, because Channel 5 is an organization that constantly uses information to incite sectarian strife,” said the UOC hierarch. “In fact, this is article 161 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine. Unfortunately, our domestic legislation, as you can see, is not yet fully regulated, therefore, not all the guilty are punished so far.”

The reporters finalized their video plot saying that new facts of the theft of property were ostensibly added to the investigation.

On May 8, 2020, the website of the Holy Dormition Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra reported that Metropolitan Paul filed a lawsuit against Channel 5 in connection with the dissemination of false information that the hierarch had allegedly called on the flock to come to public worship during the period of exacerbation of coronavirus in Ukraine. The UOC hierarch assessed this plot as conflict propaganda on religious grounds.

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