"They're just trying to drive us into the OCU"
Metropolitan Meletiy, the ruling bishop of the Chernivtsi Eparchy, spoke about the lawlessness of the SBU during searches in the eparchy.
On November 25, the Main Office of the Chernivtsi-Bukovyna Eparchy and the St. Nicholas Cathedral were searched by the Chernivtsi and Kyiv security services. The search began at 7 a.m. and did not end until 7 p.m. However, even in the middle of the searches, around 2 p.m., the SBU resources already published information with absurd accusations against the eparchy, on the basis of which Metropolitan Meletiy (he also serves as the head of the DECR UOC) was accused of treason. The UOI wrote about the charges on the same day.
The next day, in a sermon during the service, Metropolitan Meletiy spoke in detail about what happened that day, how the SBU acted and what he sees as the reason for the visit. We give a transcript of his words.
Yesterday a search was carried out in the eparchy and in the St. Nicholas Church. Perhaps, we could write a book about it. It is hard to imagine greater lawlessness. In Ivano-Frankivsk, we had a closed trial that considered my appeal to the bishops of the ROCOR in Europe asking them not to prevent us from helping Ukrainians who have found themselves far from their homeland.
It was a private correspondence in which I addressed all the bishops serving in Europe. I don't know how this letter came into such access. And on the basis of this letter, where I simply said to Metropolitan Anthony – we understand your situation, understand ours too – they charged treason to me...
The investigator told me and warned me not to tell anyone anything that I saw and heard (during the searches – Ed.). But "thanks to" the SBU press service, you all know that yesterday they found "terrible compromising evidence" against me personally and against our Church. Of course, such information is very disturbing and sows doubt. That is what it is aimed at. To divide, to show as if I am a criminal, that our Church does what it should not do.
They came at 7 a.m., they came unexpectedly and very spectacularly. They broke down all the doors in the diocese as if someone didn't want to let them in. They violated a lot of procedural points. They came with machine guns, shouting and screaming. I was just going out, and they had already smashed the doors, broken glass everywhere. They shouted "get up", "hands up", and "lie down". I'm in my pyjamas, I tell them: Where should I lie down, there's glass everywhere? They answered: "Well, then stand, put your hands up, we're going to figure it out now.” They rushed to all the rooms and the mess began, which lasted from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Then they read me the order, warned me, and the search began. They removed the disks from the computers, took my telephones, the telephones of the eparchy’s secretary, and confiscated some files from the archive. But that's not the point.
When it was still very far to the end of all this action, around noon my lawyer (who, by the way, was not allowed for an hour) shows me on his phone the publication of the SBU press service. It said that they had already found "instructions from Moscow on how we should conduct church liturgies during the war". They also wrote other nonsense, as if they had found a lot of anti-Ukrainian literature, my application for a Russian passport, "my" medal for the "liberation of Crimea".
Funny? I found it funny too at first. Then they corrected themselves and said that one of my assistants had a sample of this medal on their computer. But there were biographies of some heroes of Russia. What sane person could believe that in the eparchy’s computers we would collect heroes of Russia, military men who commit aggression against our country?
I am very grateful to you, the parishioners, my family, for your prayers, which I felt at the time.
I would like to tell you that I do not have a Russian passport.
And here the question is not to me but to the SBU. If I applied for this passport in 2007, how could they have such a document? Are they collaborating with the aggressor? This application form is not filled out in my handwriting. The only thing I can identify is my signature and my face.
If there is any information, dirty and untrue, and there will probably be, you should know that it is the work of the service that was supposed to take care of Ukraine's security, but which does such lawless things.
It's interesting that this paper they planted on me (application for Russian passport – Ed.), they put it in the documents from St. Luke's Clinic. That is, fresh documents which I know very well and I know what is in them and that there could never have been this statement, which I don't even know who wrote it.
In the same way, they came to the Accounting Department, and sent a person who as a matter of principle was not allowed to be filmed (which had to be in accordance with the procedure – Ed.). He brought a book and took it to the office. Shortly afterwards we went in with a search. They said to me: “Oh, look, open the last page.” They already knew this book, it's so worn, I guess they pass it from search to search. On the last page, there is a prayer for Russia by Patriarch Tikhon. Well, I guess a lot of people pray with that prayer now (ironically – Ed.). Well, it was added to "the compromising materials" in the same way.
There is one little point, which reveals the essence of what happened.
In a private conversation, one of these 'kind men' called me into the yard and said: 'If you want to stop this circus and live in peace, go to the OCU. He turned around and walked away. I would have liked to show him, to record him on my phone. But he was wearing a mask and they took away my phone.
Of course, I won't be able to identify him now. But when I am asked questions in Shevchenko St. (the SBU office in Chernivtsi – Ed), I will say that this is a fact.
I saw that among those who came to the searches were graduates of the theological faculty, who work for the SBU.
What can I say? I want to urge you all to be calm. Accept it as a temptation, which you just have to endure, to go through, to step over and move on with your lives.
Today the Church celebrated the memory of the great Saint John Chrysostom. The key words in his life were "Glory to God for everything". And today we give thanks for everything. For everything that God gives us – both sweet and bitter. I ask everyone to pray for me, not to listen to those provocateurs who are trying to divide us, to make us look different from each other. And I ask you not to worry. God is with us in His grace and love for man. God will not leave us.
I want to stress this once again. I have told you all this not to stain my country, Ukraine or to show the absurdity of those who should be engaged in its security, but to comment on what is being written about it in the media.
At the same time, I would like to thank those employees who behaved correctly and politely yesterday, who did not break windows, overturn furniture or throw things around. We are always open and willing to have people visit us and monitor our activities.
Therefore, we pray, ask for God's grace and remain good Christians. And the upcoming Christmas Lent will help us in this.