- Ukrainian intelligence said Thursday its agents had seized propaganda found inside Russian Orthodox churches.
- In a statement, Ukraine's SBU also said it found Russian passports and looted icons.
- It also released a photo of those agents that included a cat whose face was blurred.
Ukraine's chief intelligence agency on Thursday said its agents had seized Kremlin propaganda inside Russian Orthodox churches, releasing a photo of its agents that for some reason included a cat whose identity was also concealed.
In a statement, the Security Service of Ukraine, or SBU, said that searches of Russian Orthodox properties in formerly occupied eastern portions of the country also uncovered Russian passports, flags representing the Russian-backed Luhansk and Donestk peoples republics, and a "collection of icons stolen by rioters" from the Lithuanian consul in Kherson.
The SBU also claimed to have found documents indicating that Russian Orthodox priests were collaborating with the Russian government and its occupation authorities in Kherson. Ukrainian forces liberated the city of Kherson in early November after nearly nine months of Russian occupation.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has accused the Russian Orthodox Church of seeking to "weaken Ukraine from within" amid calls from some to ban the organization. In September, Patriarch Kirill I, the head of the church, said Russian soldiers who died in Ukraine would be absolved of their sins.
But perhaps the most attention-grabbing aspect of the SBU's statement was not what it claimed to have found but who it suggested took part in finding it. A photo included in the release shows seven humans identified as "SBU employees," their faces blurred to conceal their identities. At their feet, however, is a black cat sitting on a bed of snow — its face also pixelated. (A second cat without a clear face, but what appears to be an ear and tip of a tail, appears to be near some agents' feet.)
It is unclear what if any role the animal played in the counter-intelligence investigation. The SBU did not immediately return a request for comment.