Armed raid on Krasnodar church and arrest of clergy following anti-war sermon

Country: Russia

Date of incident: October 3, 2023

On 3 October special police units raided the premises of the Holy Intercession Tikhonite Church, a non-Moscow Patriarchate Russian Orthodox Church in Krasnodar Krai, southern Russia. Electronic devices and documents were seized, and the agents, armed with machine guns, arrested and threatened to criminally prosecute Archbishop Viktor Pivovarov and Hieromonk Iona Sigida with "discrediting the Russian Armed Forces" for their anti-war stance.

The "Slavic and South Russian Russian Orthodox Church" (RosPTs from Russian: «Славянского и Южно-Российского Российской православной церкви (РосПЦ)») is a non-canonical Russian Orthodox Church, which is not affiliated with the Moscow Patriarchate. Since the beginning of Russia's 2022 invasion of Ukraine, several members of the Church's clergy have spoken out against the war, both in sermons during church services and online. This already led to a fine of 40,000 rubles for Archbishop Pivovarov in March following an anti-war homily. Church members believe that the recent raid happened because authorities want to criminally charge the clergy with "repeatedly discrediting the Armed Forces", which can lead to further fines and even imprisonment.

The searches were carried out at six in the morning at the Holy Intercession and Tikhon Church in Slavyansk-on-Kuban. "They abruptly took me inside, threw me to the ground, and tripped me. Face to the floor in an extremely aggressive manner. They burst in with machine guns, in camouflage, and balaclavas. SOBR [special units of the National Guard of Russia] went straight into the temple with machine guns, like the military. They twist me on the floor, they put their knee on my back, I'm suffocating" - said the archbishop quoted by Govorit NeMoskva.

The agents accused Father Jonah of discrediting the Russian Federation's Armed Forces based on an online church article titled "Cult of War". However, the article does not mention the military; rather, the priest discusses the Russian Orthodox Church's deviation from faith, as per his perspective.

Sources: Говорит НеМоскваForum 18Кавказ.Реалии

Photo: Говорит НеМосква