Flames engulf famous Ukrainian monastery caught up in war
A famous wooden monastery in eastern Ukraine, known as the Sviatohirsk Lavra, has caught on fire, as fighting rages in the area.
A Ukrainian government tweet shows the old Orthodox monastery in one piece, accompanying a photo of it ablaze.
“As a result of hostilities, a large-scale fire broke out on the territory of the All Saints Hermitage of the Holy Dormition Sviatohirsk Lavra,” the Ukrainian Orthodox Church says on its website. “The flames engulfed the main shrine of the monastery.”
The monastery is affiliated with the Moscow Patriarchate, which is run by Patriarch Kirill, an ally of President Vladimir Putin and supporter of the Russian military.
The Ukrainian government tweet alleges that Russian forces killed four monks there on 30 May. Euronews cannot independently verify this claim.
Russia’s Defense Ministry has alleged that Ukrainian nationalists set fire to the monastery as they retreated from Svyatogorsk, reports the state-affiliated TASS news agency. Again this cannot be verfied
A Ukrainian army officer, Yurii Kochevenko, posted a photo of the burning monastery on Facebook, with the caption: “Another crime of Russian barbarians for whom there is nothing sacred.”
The monastery stands on cliffs by the Siverskyi Donets river. Russian troops have tried repeatedly to cross the river, aiming to encircle the Ukrainian army. Sviatohirsk lies just north of Slovyansk, a city held by the Ukrainians.
The monastery dates back centuries and was closed by the Communists in the last century, but was reopened in 1992 after the Soviet Union’s collapse.