“The convent in Minsk has repeatedly been caught up in scandalous stories,” Christian Visions reports. Back in 2020 the monastery was at the centre of scandals because of its support for state terror against Belarusian civilians and now it is supporting Russia’s war in Ukraine.
Andrey Lemeshonok, the clergyman of St. Elisabeth Monastery, claims that the whole world is against Russia and Russian Orthodox followers. He calls life in the West sinful and godless and says that Russian Orthodox followers don’t need this “free world, where everything has been turned upside down”. He hopes that Russia will occupy the Donbas region of Ukraine and urges everyone to pray for Lukashenko, Putin, Russian Defence Minister Shoigu and Foreign Minister Lavrov.
At the monastery’s grounds Belarusian teenagers were trained to assemble and dismantle automatic
A group “Help to the brethren” has been formed at the monastery. The group works to meet demands of the Russian military, of which are many – not only clothes, footwear or medicines, but also money to buy items which are being used in combat operations: radios, copters, thermal imagers. One of the envelopes with cash was clearly labeled “for body armour and helmet”. Every 2 weeks the sisters send collected supplies to Moscow where it is being distributed further afield.
❓Where does the money come from?
“One of the major income streams of St.Elisabeth’s Monastery is the sale of produce from the monastery’s workshops as well as a resale of tacky Chinese made knick-knacks under the guise of workshop products abroad. For decades, the multinational team equipped with a range of language skills got dressed as Sisters of Mercy and drove trucks all over Europe, selling various souvenirs, books, and church paraphernalia for a foreign currency. These sales were accompanied by claims that the proceeds from such sales go to the social activities and projects of the monastery – to help the destitute and needy in Belarus” – writes “Christian visions”.
And the best place for these money generating sales have always been Christmas fairs and not in Belarus but in Europe!
Not without the help of the Belarusian diaspora, Europeans gradually began to learn about their activities. Daria Schut from Norway told local media that religious communities should refrain from receiving the sisters or at least be aware that the monastery supports Russian aggression and promotes Russian propaganda narratives. However, this didn’t prevent the sisters’ visit in May and in December either.
Human rights activists in UK managed to stop the monastery’s participation in the famous Winchester Christmas Fair. Tatiana Salvidge, a Belarusian, informed the local community that the funds raised by the monastery could be used to help the Russian military in Ukraine.
As well as that, the monastery’s participation in a Christmas fair in Sweden has been cancelled.
However, at the very same time, in December 2022, the monastery’s stall was seen in Florence and Belgium.
In Poland, activists spotted the monastery’s stalls and spent a lot of time telling shoppers that the money collected from sales could be going to support the war in Ukraine. Representatives of the national-democratic Belarusian RUH movement have started a petition demanding the Polish Orthodox Church and the Catholic Church in Poland to ban the monastery from trading activities on Polish territory during Christmas events.
You can sign the petition here: https://telegra.ph/Razam-zabaron%D1%96m-belarusk%D1%96m-pradsta%D1%9En%D1%96kam-russkogo-mira-gandlyavac-u-Polshchy-12-04
The People’s Embassies of Belarus are actively distributing the information about activities of the St.Elizabeth’s Monastery to politicians and media in their countries.
It became obvious that by allowing the abode to participate in different type of Fairs and markets, we, Europeans, unknowingly, are financially supporting the war and the killing of Ukrainian people.
So, would we still chant “Keep working, Sisters!” after all?