SBU exposes FSB network operating under Russia-run church cover

SBU exposes FSB network operating under Russia-run church cover

The Security Service of Ukraine neutralized a Kyiv-based criminal ring that is believed to have been operating under the cover of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (Moscow Patriarchate), performing various malign influence operations on Russia’s FSB orders.

That’s according to the SBU press office, Ukrinform reports.

The SBU detained four key culprits, including one of the leading clerics at an UOC (MP) temple, who was part of the Russian human asset network.

This is one of the largest FSB networks exposed in Ukraine since the large-scale invasion.

It had a clear hierarchy and functions’ division, being in constant contact with the largest Russian media outlets that would immediately pick up certain content.

According to the investigation, the cleric detained during the raid served as the network coordinator He was responsible for circulating reports inciting inter-religious enmity and justifying Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine.

A criminal network involved in malign influence operations under the cover of UOC (MP) has been exposed in Kyiv / Photo: SBU

To this end, the perpetrator would personally instruct his subordinates within the network – other members of the criminal organization, who operated under the cover of "political pundits", posting provocative content, including videos.

The suspects would spread their malign content across dozens of controlled channels on Telegram and YouTube, as well as on Facebook pages and on the official websites of various dioceses of the UOC (MP).

Read also: Russia using US churches in spy operations – media

Immediately after certain content was published on the orders of the network’s handlers, it was picked up by Russia’s major TV channels and online outlets to spread fake news about Ukraine.

Read also: Law banning Russia-affiliated churches set to cleanse Ukraine’s religious realm of Russian ideology adherents

With these influence operations in the media space, the enemy intended to destabilize the socio-political situation in Ukraine and to discredit Ukraine in the international arena, especially in the eyes of its Western partners.

The four detainees and 10 other members of the organization were charged with treason, collaborative activity, membership in a criminal organization, incitement of religious enmity, and justification of Russian aggression.

Read also: Ukraine presses charges against Russian church leader Kirill

The court is yet to rule on a preventive measure to be applied to the suspects.

Perpetrators face life in prison if found guilty in court.

As Ukrinform reported earlier, the Security Service of Ukraine initiated 73 criminal proceedings against clerics who aer believed to have been aiding and abetting the enemy amid war.

Photo: SBU

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