Kiev, January 11, Interfax - Ukrainian Culture Minister Yevgeny Nishchuk's statements that icons have been stolen from the Kiev-Pechersk Lavra are ungrounded, Archpriest Alexander Bakhov, the head of the legal department of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, said.
"These statements sound fairly abstract now. No one knows what is missing or where it went," the priest said in an interview with the publication Apostrof.
Statements about theft need to be made on the basis of a decision made by a commission that inspected all these cultural valuables, he said.
"On the basis of such a decision, an official can say that things are missing, a list of these things is provided, and then we talk concretely about every object of cultural heritage - what, how, and why - to make it clear. But now it is unclear for what purpose and why this is being done. It's just pointless to talk about it now," a Ukrainian Orthodox Church lawyer said.
He called Nishchuk's statement a provocation, saying that "the minister has not backed up his statements with any documents or even evidence."
He confirmed that the commission inspected over 800 objects and issued its finding back in December 2018.
"We do not have access to this document. Over 800 objects were inspected there. Every day, the commission visited and inspected a certain number of objects. I don't know why it is not being signed and published now," the priest said.
The Ukrainian culture minister said on a live broadcast on Pryamiy television that several valuable icons were missing from the Kiev-Pechersk Lavra.