Former cleric Nikolai Romanov, who cursed Russian authorities and religious leaders over the closure of churches during the COVID-19 pandemic, was sentenced to 3.5 years in a penal colony. He was accused of violating the right to freedom of religion and of persuading nuns and parishioners to commit suicide.
The prosecutor’s office demanded four years in prison for the clergyman, but the court recognized the age of the accused, his illness and his charity work as mitigating circumstances, the daily “Kommersant” reported on Wednesday. The defense of the former clergyman intends to appeal the sentence.
Stopped during the assault on the monastery
The former clergyman, known in the Urals as Father Sergei, was arrested last December during the an assault by special forces and the police on the nunnery in the Sverdlovsk regionwhere he was hiding. He was charged with violations of the right to freedom of religion, as well as persuading nuns and parishioners to commit suicide.
In his sermons, the confessor of the monastery was to ask the faithful if they were ready “to die for Russia, for the children, and he would bless them for that.” His defense argued that the sermons could not be considered a public summons to commit suicide because they did not specify a specific addressee. – The expressions of the accused are too general to state the nature of mass activity – lawyer Paweł Babikow justified.
The court also established that Romanov, expelled from the ranks of the Russian Orthodox Church, was arbitrarily living on the premises of the monastery, and on his order the diocesan commission, which came for the prayer service and was to make an inventory of the monastic property, recalled “Kommersant”.
Ideologist of the sect that worshiped Nicholas II
Romanov questioned the existence of the COVID-19 pandemic and opposed the anti-epidemic restrictions. He also called on parishioners to disobey church leaders and state authorities. He cursed Russian authorities and church leaders over the closure of churches during the pandemic. He called President Vladimir Putin “a traitor to the motherland” serving the satanic “world government” and denounced Patriarch Cyril, the head of the Church.
In the Urals, Romanov was considered the leader and ideologist of a sect that worshiped the last Tsar, Nicholas II, and recognized his death as a sacrifice analogous to the crucifixion of Christ.
Father Sergei was also accused of extremism. According to investigators, he was to lead a group that aroused “hostility towards Jews, Catholics and Muslims” on recordings of sermons. A new investigation has been opened in this case.
Main photo source: Reuters