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Russian intel offering Ukrainians US$2,000 for setting on fire churches of former Moscow Patriarchate

The Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) prevented an attempt by Russian intelligence to recruit a Ukrainian citizen, offering a US$2,000 reward, to set on fire a temple of what was until recently called the Moscow Patriarchate, aiming to sow tensions and discord on religious grounds, provoking further destabilization.

According to the SBU press service, security operatives revealed that Russian intelligence and Moscow-controlled “security services in the occupied parts of Donbas had been working to recruit Ukrainian nationals who would commit arson attacks on temples operated by Orthodox priests of the former UOC-MP.

The targeted Ukrainian was promised to receive the reward on his bank account once he provided a video proving he had done the job.

Read alsoUkraine must be prepared for Russia’s religious provocations – expert

The SBU shared an intercepted instruction the Russian intelligence agency drew up for the potential executioner of the crime: “Draw any of the proposed symbols at the site; start shooting a video, shoot in darkness, and then show the moment the fire starts. Shoot the church burning for 10 seconds. You don’t need to burn it to the ground. The main thing is that the church must start burn. Any of them. Whatever you choose. Be sure it’s MOSCOW PATRIARCHATE. Going on the job, grab a phone WITHOUT A SIM-CARD; when shooting, put the phone in airplane mode so that it doesn’t show up on some Wi-Fi.”

The SBU press center noted that the Security Service of Ukraine had prevented the said attempt to attract the Ukrainian man.

“However, the foreign intelligence service continues its recruiting attempts. In this regard, the Security Service of Ukraine calls on citizens to be vigilant and, if they receive such “orders”, immediately inform the security service,” the report reads.

As UNIAN reported earlier, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko said Moscow continues provocations aimed against the autocephaly of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine: the enemy seeks to incite conflicts on religious grounds.

“The enemy aims to incite conflicts around the transition [of former UOC-MP parishes to the new church], make communities stand up against each another, and test our unity, again,” he said.