Metropolitan Ionafan of Tulchyn, UOC MP, requests to be released to Russia, - Media

02 May, 19:10
Metropolitan Ionafan of Tulchyn, UOC MP, requests to be released to Russia, - Media - фото 1
Metropolitan Ionafan of Tulchyn and Bratslav of the UOC-MP, who was found guilty by a Vinnytsia court for denying Russia's armed aggression against Ukraine, wants to be included in the exchange lists as a prisoner of war.

The 75-year-old clergyman was found guilty by the court of Vinnytsia on August 7, 2023, on four counts of the Criminal Code related to spreading materials calling for violent changes to Ukraine's constitutional order, its state border and denying Russia's armed aggression against Ukraine, as reported by Glavkom.

His punishment was five years in prison with property confiscation, though he is currently appealing the verdict and is under house arrest. Two days after the verdict, on August 9, 2023, he wrote a letter expressing his willingness to be exchanged as a prisoner of war, which drew Russian involvement. The aggressor state expressed no objection to taking Metropolitan Ionafan, as reported by the authorized body of Ukraine.

However, the Vinnytsia Regional Prosecutor's Office applied to the court in early April 2024 to cancel the night-time house arrest as Ionafan was intended for exchange. Yet, when the court began reviewing the documents, the prosecutor changed course, stating there was no confirmation from the authorized body about transferring Metropolitan Ionafan for exchange as a prisoner of war.

This uncertainty can be explained by Ukraine's attempt to negotiate for more of its defenders who are in captivity. It's also been revealed that Patriarch Kirill of the Russian Orthodox Church defended Ionafan, stating that the accusations were baseless and the evidence falsified.

Kirill directly stated, "I personally know Metropolitan Ionafan from his years of study and work at the Leningrad Spiritual Academy... All these accusations are absolutely groundless, and the so-called evidence is falsified. Venerable Ionafan, like the entire Church, prays for peace and calls for spiritual unity in Holy Rus."

Almost all of Ionafan's accusations are denied by him. He was accused of writing and disseminating an article online that allegedly incited religious enmity, confirmed by judicial-linguistic expertise. During searches of the Tulchyn eparchy of the UOC MP, SBU officers found propaganda leaflets related to Russia, including those with images of the Russian flag, maps depicting Crimea as part of Russia, and more.

The most intriguing find in the eparchy's premises was a hymn-prayer for Russia with musical notes published in Moscow in 2015, with the author of the lyrics attributed to Bishop Ionafan (Yeletskykh).