Greek Government Defends Parish In Kyiv

10.09.2001, 16:01

Grigoris Niotis, assistant to the Greek Minister of Foreign Affairs, traveled to Ukraine on an official visit at the end of August 2001. The Greek Orthodox community of St. Catherine the Great Martyr in Kyiv is no longer being allowed to conduct services in the building in which it had been meeting. Consequently, this was one of the central themes of the official meeting of Mr. Niotis with Yuriy Serhieiev, government secretary of the Ukrainian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The press service of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church-Moscow Patriarchate (UOC-MP) reports that Mr. Niotis also met with a delegation from the parish, which is under the jurisdiction of the UOC-MP.
The community of St. Catherine’s was established in 1783 and 10 years later a men’s monastery canonically subject to the hierarch of Sinai (Egypt) was created on its foundation. For centuries the church and monastery were the center of Greek spiritual and national life in Kyiv. In 1929 the church was destroyed during Stalin’s repression and the buildings of the monastery were nationalized by the authorities. Since the beginning of the 1990s the Greek community has appealed to the organs of power, requesting the return of the church’s property. In 1995, however, the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine handed the premises over to the National Bank of Ukraine (NBU). In 1999 St. Catherine’s parish and the Board of Directors of the NBU signed a contract allowing the community free use of the church premises. But in February 2001 the administration of the NBU discussed ending the agreement and since June it has not allowed religious services to be held on the premises and refuses to continue the previous arrangement. The Greek side considers that the community of St. Catherine’s should be given the church premises or a plot of land should be sectioned off for building space as material compensation from the NBU. The Ukrainian government and the administration of the NBU were unavailable for comment.