Hieromonk Ioann Kurmoyarov was defrocked in the Russian Orthodox Church in 2021 for criticizing the militaristic design of the flagman church of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation, the appearance of which, according to Kurmoyarov, offends the feelings of believers. In March 2022, he posted on social media a video Who Will Be in Hell And Who Will Be in Heaven?, which linguistic expertise found to contain content discrediting the Russian army. On 7 June, the priest was searched in connection with an open criminal case under the article on fakes against the Russian army. He was detained, and gadgets, two icons, a wooden cross and a cassock were confiscated. He was placed under arrest but his lawyer, Leonid Krikun, could not find him. The priest was only found in the Kresty pre-trial detention centre in St Petersburg on 14 June. A criminal case was initiated under art. 270.3 part 2 (fakes about the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation) of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation.
In July, the Norwegian human rights centre Forum 18 published an article about the priest. On 27 July, the Support for Political Prisoners. Memorial human rights project recognized him as a political prisoner. On 12 August, a large publication about Hieromonk Ioann was produced by the Sota project. On 29 August, the Kalininsky district court of St Petersburg extended Kurmoyarov’s arrest until 1 October, although he admitted his guilt and asked to change his preventive measure. On 12 September, the arrest was extended until 8 February 2023. On 6 February 2023, the Kalininsky District Court of St Petersburg extended Kurmoyarov’s detention until 28 May 2023. On 26 April 2023, the detention was extended until 28 August 2023 due to the fact that the priest had citizenship of another country in the past.
On 10 October 2022, Hieromonk Kurmoyarov was charged with spreading fake stories about the Russian army — a total of 63 episodes. Kurmoyarov is accused of posting on his YouTube channel, Orthodox Virtual Parish, several videos where he talks about Russia’s war against Ukraine, as well as posts on the VK social network calling for anti-war protests and in the advertising series Wakizashi on the animated film Masyanya channel on YouTube. Kurmoyarov pleaded guilty in the criminal case. Following that, his lawyer Leonid Krikun refused to defend the priest in court because he believes that Kurmoyarov is slandering himself. The interests of Kurmoyarov in court will be represented by Luiza Magomedova; the line of defence will be based on searching for extenuating circumstances.
On 5 December 2022, at a meeting in the proceedings of the Kalininsky district court of St Petersburg, Kurmoyarov emphasized being a Christian pacifist. The hearing in his case was postponed to 9 January 2023. On 26 April, the court proceedings were postponed until 26 May 2023 following a new judge appointment for this case and the defense requiring more time to study the results of the expert examination of the hieromonk’s videos.
Human rights activists started a Telegram channel dedicated to Kurmoyarov’s case.
On 31 August 2023, the Kalininsky district court of St. Petersburg sentenced Kurmoyarov to three years in prison; he has also been banned from writing publicly on the internet for two years.
Letters by post or the FSIN-pismo service should be sent to:
Kurmoyarov Ioann Valeryevich, 1968 (SIZO-1)
196655 Kolpino, Kolpinskaya st., 9