Hieromonk NIKANDR (PINCHUK), ROCOR(A) (Verkhoturye, Sverdlovsk Oblast)

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Hieromonk Nikandr (Pinchuk)

On 30 March, the rector of the St Simeon of Verkhoturye parish published a post on the VK social network, which the linguistic assessment deemed to be violating the law on discrediting the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation. In this post, Hieromonk Nikandr characterised the actions of the Russian army as annexationist, which contradicted the position of the Ministry of Defense. The hieromonk has deleted the post and hist page on VK.

On 14 March, the Verkhoturye district court fined the priest 35,000 Russian rubles under art. 20.3.3 of the Code of Administrative Offenses. Based on screenshots of his social media, a criminal case was initiated against him under part 1 of art. 280.3 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation on 29 June; the priest faces imprisonment for up to six months. While studying the materials of the criminal case, hieromonk Nikandr noticed that complaints against him were made by the eparchial department of the Yekaterinburg eparchy of the Russian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate and the local Verkhoturye monastery.

The priest referred to the war in Ukraine as a ‘mortal sin‘ and ‘crime‘. He professed his innocence: «I am a priest and I have the right to condemn evil, regardless of who commits it, and the political situation

On July 1, his house was searched and he was detained for questioning by the Investigative Committee on 1 July. On 17 October 2022, a trial took place in regard to the repeated discrediting of the army (article 280.3 of the Criminal Code). The priest was fined 100,000 Russian rubles. He was charged with posting an already deleted social media post on 30 March, where the cleric wrote about the war of conquest waged by Russia, as well as about demons in power.