Persecution of Christians by Religious and State Authorities for Anti-war Stance or Support of Ukraine in Defence from Aggression

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This list is prepared by Belarusian Christian Ecumenical group «Christian Vision» in cooperation with «Christian Against War» and «Christmas Declaration». It is constantly being updated. Last update: 21 May 2024.

If you know another cases not yet mentioned, please, submit them to us via telegram bot: @christianvisionBot or via email: shaltnotkill@gmail.com.

Belarus

Baptists

1. Laryn Pavel, Evangelical Christian Baptists (Minsk)

Belarusian Greek-Catholic Church

2. Yahorau Vasil, priest, Greek Catholic Church (Mahiloŭ)

Belarusian Orthodox Church

3. Bahamolnikau Uladzislau, priest, Orthodox Church (Minsk)

4. Batura Yauhien, journalist, Orthodox Church (Minsk)

5. Fiodarava Aksana, Orthodox Church (Minsk)

6. Hlushkou Yauhien, Orthodox Church (Ziabrauka, Homieĺ region)

7. Karastsialou Dziyanisi, priest, Orthodox Church (Minsk)

8. Kotes Tatsiana, Orthodox Church (Minsk)

9. Marugo Mikhail, priest, Orthodox Church (Minsk)

10. Mikhailava Katsiaryna, Orthodox Church (Minsk)

11. Nahorny Aleh, Orthodox Church (Minsk)

12. Nazdryn Andrei, priest, Orthodox Church (Hrodna)

13. Nekrashevich Anastasia, Orthodox Church (Minsk)

14. Prakaptsou Piotr, archpriest, Orthodox Church (agro-town Prybytki, Homieĺ region)

15. Seradzjuk Dziyana, journalist, Orthodox Church (Minsk)

Christians of Evangelical Faith (Pentecostals)

16. Zaretski Aliaksandr, pastor, Evangelical Church in Novalukoml (Čašniki district, Viciebsk voblasc)

Full Gospel Church

17. Hancharenka Viachaslau, pastor, New Life Full Gospel Church (Minsk)

Roman Catholic Church in Belarus

18. Baran Aliaksandr, priest, Roman Catholic Church (Lyntupy, Viciebsk region)

19. Bulczak Andrzej, priest, Roman Catholic Church (Pastavy, Viciebsk region)

20. Danilevich Aliaksandr, lawyer, Roman Catholic Church (Minsk)

21. Keulich Andrei, priest, Roman Catholic Church (Horki, Mahiloŭ region)

22. Lachouk Igor, priest, Roman Catholic Church (Stoŭbcy, Minsk region

23. Uchkuronis Yauhen, priest, Roman Catholic Church (Smargoń, Hrodna region)

24. Vashchuk Andrei, priest SDS, Roman Catholic Church (Viciebsk)

Kazakhstan

Metropolia of the Russian Orthodox Church in the Republic of Kazakhstan

25. Iakov (Vorontsov), hieromonk

Lithuania

Previously Lithuanian Diocese in jurisdiction of the Moscow Patriarchate / Currently jurisdiction of the Ecumenical Patriarchate

26. Ananiev Georgy, priest, Orthodox Church (Vilnius, Lithuania)

27. Dauparas Vitalis, priest, Orthodox Church (Vilnius, Lithuania)

28. Mockus Vitalijus, archpriest, Orthodox Church (Vilnius, Lithuania)

29. Seliavko, Vladimir, archpriest, Orthodox Church (Vilnius, Lithuania)

30. Sungaila Gintaras, priest, Orthodox Church (Vilnius, Lithuania)

31. Tseburevkin Georgy, deacon, Orthodox Church (Vilnius, Lithuania)

Russia

Adventists of the Seventh Day

32. Alexey Galimov, ASD (Vladivostok, Russia)

Christians of Evangelical Faith (Pentecostals)

33. Kapatsyna Andrey, Evangelical Christians (Magadan)

34. Makushin Maxim, Evangelical Christians (Murmansk, Russia)

35. Manzurin Mikhail, pastor, Kingdom of Glory, Moscow

36. Ratkin Albert, bishop, New Word Church (Kaluga, Russia)

37. Ulitin Nikolai, bishop, The New Generation Church (Krasnodar Krai, Russia)

38. Yugov Svyatoslav, pastor, New Generation Church (Chelyabinsk, Russia)

Evangelical Christians (Baptists)

39. Belayeva Nina, Baptist (Voronezh, Russia)

40. Legostaev Aleksandr, pastor, Baptist (Orel, Russia)

41. Oshchepkov Pert, Evangelical Christian (Barabinsk, Novosibirsk oblast, Russia)

42. Reznichenko Vyacheslav, International Union of Evangelical Christian Baptist Churches (village Zarubino, Russian Far East, Russia)

43. Sipko Yuri, pastor, Baptist (Moscow, Russia)

44. Stepanov Sergey, Baptist (Tambov, Russia)

Non-denominational Christians / Religious affiliation not established

45. Charov Eduard, priest (Krasnoufimsk district, Sverdlov region)

46. Mishchenko Evgeniy (Moscow, Russia)

47. Veselov Vitaly (Vladimir oblast, Russia)

Orthodox Apostolic Church

48. Evgeny Bestuzhev, believer, OAC (St Petersburg, Russia)

Orthodox Church of Russia

49. Viktor (Pivovarov), archbishop, Orthodox Church of Russia (Slavyansk-on-Kuban, Russia)

50. Iona (Sigida), hieromonk, Orthodox Church of Russia (Slavyansk-on-Kuban, Russia)

Roman Catholic Church in Russia

51. Borisova Galina, Catholic Church (Moscow, Russia)

52. Kassianenko Maria, Catholic Church (St. Petersburg, Russia)

53. Khoroshenin Valentin, Catholic Church (St. Petersburg, Russia)

Russian Orthodox Church

54. Ananich Vladimir, believer, Russian Orthodox Church (Moscow, Russia)

55. Arseny (Sokolov), hegumen, Russian Orthodox Church (Moscow, Russia)

56. Baev Dmitry, deacon, Russian Orthodox Church (Kirov, Russia)

57. Burdin Ioann, priest, Russian Orthodox Church (village of Karabanovo, Krasnoselsky District, Kostroma Oblast, Russia)

58. Chagina Anna, musician, Russian Orthodox Church (Tomsk, Russia)

59. Dąbrowski Aleksander, Russian Orthodox Church (Bryansk oblast, Russia)

60. Emelyanova Elizaveta, Russian Orthodox Church (Moscow)

61. Fomin Arkady, deacon, Russian Orthodox Church (Syktyvkar, Komi Republic, Russia)

62. Gavryshkiv Iliya, priest, Russian Orthodox Church (Tver oblast, Russia)

63. Goriachikh Vitaly, Russian Orthodox Church (Chita, Russia)

64. Govorun Kirill, Russian Orthodox Church (Moscow, Russia)

65. Ivanov Aleksander, Russian Orthodox Church (Kaluga, Russia)

66. Kalinin Maksim, theologian, Russian Orthodox Church (Moscow, Russia)

67. Kichula Pavel, reader, Russian Orthodox Church (Vyazma, Russia)

68. Koltsov Vitaly, Russian Orthodox Church (Moscow, Russia)

69. Korolev Vladimir, priest, Russian Orthodox Church (Tula, Russia)

70. Korotaev Peter, priest, Russian Orthodox Church (Ivanovskoye village, Noginsk district, Moscow oblast)

71. Koval Ioann, priest, Russian Orthodox Church (Moscow, Russia)

72. Krainyuk Kirill, priest, Russian Orthodox Church (Leningrad oblast, Russia)

73. Krivonos Sergey, believer, Russian Orthodox Church (Voronezh, Russia)

74. Krivoshein Gleb, priest, Russian Orthodox Church (Kazan, Republic of Tatarstan, Russ

75. Kuraev Andrey, archdeacon, Russian Orthodox Church (Moscow, Russia)

76. Mayboroda Evgeniya, believer, Russian Orthodox Church (Shakhty, Rostov oblast)

77. Nagibin Maksim, priest, Russian Orthodox Church (Krasnodar Krai, Russia)

78. Orlovsky Igor, believer, Russian Orthodox Church (Krasnoyarsk)

79. Platonov Nikolai, priest, Russian Orthodox Church (Chelyabinsk, Russia)

80. Razumov Vasily, believer, Russian Orthodox Church (Yaroslavl, Russia)

81. Rybakov Sergiy, priest, Russian Orthodox Church (Samara, Russia)

82. Shcherbyuk Sergey, deacon, Russian Orthodox Church (Samara Oblast, Russia)

83. Sheyanov Grigory, doctor, Russian Orthodox Church (Moscow, Russia)

84. Simonov Mikhail, pensioner, Russian Orthodox Church (Moscow, Russia)

85. Titkov Sergey, priest, Russian Orthodox Church (Ryazan, Russia)

86. Tsapkalenko Andrei, Orthodox Church (Khabarovsk, Russia)

87. Uminsky Alexey, archpriest, Orthodox Church (Moscow)

88. Vostrodymov Alexander, archpriest, Orthodox Church (Dimitrov, Moscow oblast)

89. Vtulov Alexey, priest, Orthodox Church (Podolsk district, Moscow oblast)

Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia (Agathangelos)

90. Hilarion (Shatkovsky), monk, ROCOR(A) (village Khokhlovo, Belgorod oblast, Russia)

91. Ioann (Kurmoyarov), hieromonk, ROCOR(A) (St Petersburg)

92. Nikandr (Pinchuk), hieromonk, ROCOR(A) (Verkhoturye, Sverdlovsk Oblast)

Russia: occupied Ukraine

Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church

93. Heleta Bohdan, priest, UGCC, Berdyansk, Zaporizhzhia, occupied Ukraine

94. Levytsky Ivan, priest, UGCC, Berdyansk, Zaporizhzhia, occupied Ukraine

Ukrainian Orthodox Church

95. Feognost (Pushkov), archimandrite UOC (Kuryachivka village, Luhansk oblast, occupied Ukraine)

96. Maksymov Konstiantin, archpriest UOC (Tokmak, Zaporizhzhia, occupied Ukraine)

97. Saviysky Volodymyr, archpriest UOC (Prymorsk, Zaporizhzhia, occupied Ukraine)

Orthodox Church of Ukraine

98. Chui Andri, priest, Orthodox Church of Ukraine (Donetsk oblast, occupied Ukraine)

99. Khristofor (Khrimli), priest, Orthodox Church of Ukraine (Donetsk oblast, occupied Ukraine)

Spain

Spanish-Portuguese Diocese of the Russian Orthodox Church

100. Kordochkin Andrey, archpriest Russian Orthodox Church (Madrid, Spain)

Ukraine

Adventists of the Seventh Day

101. Zelinsky Dmytro, believer, Seventh-day Adventist (Kremenets, Ternopil Region, Ukraine)

Mukachevo Greek Catholic Diocese

102. Kurakh Roman, priest Mukachevo Greek Catholic Diocese (Uzhhorod, Ukraine)

Belarus

Baptists (Evangelical Christian Baptists)

PAVEL LARYN, Evangelical Christian Baptists (Minsk)

Pavel Laryn

Pavel Laryn studied at the Minsk Theological Seminary of the Union of Evangelical Christian Baptists.

On 24 February 2022, he posted an anti-war message in a local chat; on the following day he was arrested for 15 days. Two months later, he was detained again and charged under the Criminal Code art. 368 (Insulting the President of the Republic of Belarus) and art. 369 (Insulting a representative of authority). He was sentenced to 18 months in a penal colony.


Belarusian Greek Catholic Church

Rev. VASIL YAHORAU, Greek Catholic Church (Mahiloŭ)

Rev. Vasil Yahorau

The rector of the Mother of God of Bialyničy parish in Mahiloŭ.

He was detained on 25 March 2022 for a sticker “Ukraine, forgive” on his car. From 25 March to 28 March, he was kept in a temporary detention centre. On 28 March, the court fined him 50 basic units.


Belarusian Orthodox Church

Rev. ULADZISLAU BAHAMOLNIKAU, Orthodox Church (Minsk)

Rev. Uladzislau Bahamolnikau

A clergyman of the Epiphany parish of the Belarusian Orthodox Church in Minsk, a member of the Minsk Eparchial Court, and a philosophy lecturer at the Minsk Theological Academy. 

On 31 August, he was brutally detained. During the detention, officers of GUBOPiK — the Main Directorate for Combating Organised Crime and Corruption of the Ministry of Internal Affairs — broke down the door in his apartment and searched it. On 1 September, he was arrested for fourteen days. Pro-regime Telegram channels reported that the priest could face criminal prosecution under art. 361-1 of the Criminal Code (Founding of an extremist formation or participation in it), which is punishable with restriction of liberty for up to five years or imprisonment for three to seven years. If a criminal prosecution is not applied, Rev Bahamolnikau is facing rolling administrative arrests for more than four months. State propaganda publications also alleged — without providing any evidence — that the priest could be prosecuted for raising money for the Armed Forces of Ukraine. The Christian Vision group issued a statement in support of Rev Uladzislau Bahamolnikau. 

Since 31 August, the priest has not been released; he spent seven rolling administrative arrests of 100 days in total. From the former cellmates of Bahamolnikau, it is known that the conditions of detention in the isolator were torturous, inhuman, and humiliating the dignity: overcrowded — the number of inmates is several times higher than the capacity — cell; ban on all types of parcels, including clothing, hygiene, medicines and vitamins, correspondence; poor heating and ventilation, electric lights on around the clock; absence of the equipped sleeping places, mattresses, and bedding. All prisoners are forced to sleep on the floor wrapped in clothes which they had at the point of detention. Bahamolnikau suffered from coronavirus and bacterial pulmonary infections, he has persistent heavy coughing. According to the people who were incarcerated with him in the same cell, the priest may have the signs of scurvy due to a lack of vitamins. Insufficient nutrition and illness led to serious weight loss. At the same time, access to the necessary medical care and medication is not provided. The Christian Vision group issued a statement regarding the persecution of the priest and the torture used against him at the Akrescina detention centre. 

On 9 December, a criminal case was started against Rev Bahamolnikau under art. 342 of the Criminal Code; he was taken into custody. On 19 December 2022, he was released on bail.


ANASTASIA NEKRASHEVICH, AKSANA FIODARAVA, TATSIANA KOTES, KATSIARYNA MIKHAILAVA, Belarusian Orthodox Church (Minsk); journalists YAUHIEN BATURA and DZIYANA SERADZJUK

Dziyana Seradzjuk and Yauhien Batura

On 3 March 2022, Orthodox mothers of soldiers planned to pray together at the evening service in the Holy Spirit Cathedral in Minsk. On the same day, the event was announced on the anti-war Telegram channel, Mothers’ Union. Law enforcement agencies attempted to disrupt the event. 20 minutes before the 6 pm. evening service, Yauhien Batura and Dziyana Seradzjuk— journalists of the Novy Čas newspaper and a married couple — were detained near the Cathedral. They were taken to the temporary detention centre on Akrescina Street. On 4 March, the judge of the Centraĺny District Court of Minsk, Dzmitry Karsyuk, imposed each of them 15 days of administrative arrest under article 24.3 (Disobedience to a lawful order or demand of an official in the exercise of his official powers) of the Code of Administrative Offenses. Before the service, special vehicles of law enforcement agencies and plainclothes riot police and ordinary police officers were arrived to the Cathedral. At the entrance, they checked documents took photographs and videos of many women. During the service, law enforcement officers in plain clothes with walkie-talkies were continuously moving inside the church. Women prayed and some had icons in their hands; there were no political slogans or banners. Despite Rev. Ihar Latushka’s request to leave the women alone, four parishioners — Anastasia NekarshevichAksana FiodaravaTatsiana Kotes, and Katsiaryna Mikhailava — were detained allegedly for identification after the service. In the police bus, their passports and smartphones were checked for subscriptions to opposition Telegram channels and photographs from the protests. The women were taken to the Centraĺny District Department of Internal Affairs of Minsk. They were interviewed and warned about the consequences of taking part in unauthorized rallies; then they were released. On 4 March, police arrived at the house of another woman who had attended the service in the Cathedral the night before and was photographed at the entrance. She was not at home. The Norwegian human rights organization Forum 18 reported on this incident.


YAUHIEN HLUSHKOU, former sacristan, Belarusian Orthodox Church (Ziabraŭka, Homieĺ region, Belarus)

Yauhien Hlushkou

A musician, veterinarian, former sacristan at the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary parish in the village of Prybytki, Homieĺ region.

Hlushkou was detained and placed in custody in August 2022. Contacts of Ukrainians and an old photo of the airfield in Ziabraŭka used by Russian troops for airstrikes in Ukraine were found in his phone. The photo was taken from a drone; this was the reason for the criminal prosecution under part 1 of art. 356 (Treason). The case was considered behind closed doors. Hlushkou was found guilty of treason to the state and assistance to extremist activity. He was sentenced to nine years in prison.

Priest Piotr Prakaptsou, at the parish of whom Yauhien was a sacristan, was also persecuted in Belarus because of his anti-war stance.


Rev. DZIYANISI KARASTSIALOU, Orthodox Church (Minsk)

Rev. Dziyanisi Karastsialou

A priest of the Ikon of the Mother of God Joy of All Who Sorrow parish of the Minsk Eparchy of the Belarusian Orthodox Church in Minsk.

On 1 January 2023, after the liturgy, Rev. Dziyanisi Karastsialou was offering a prayer; one of the requests submitted for prayer was «for the soldiers and defenders of Ukraine» which the priest read aloud. On 3 January 2023, a denunciation of the priest was published on the propagandist Bondarava’s Telegram channel, albeit with an incorrect date as if the mentioned events took place on 2 January 2023.  Bondarava called on the police to deal with the priest. On 4 January 2023, the Metropolitan of Minsk Veniamin (Tupeko) published a circular letter in which he announced that he had suspended Rev. Dziyanisi Karastsialou from ministry, effectively dismissing him from the ministry (removing him from performing religious services), until he repents. In the aforementioned circular letter, Metropolitan Veniamin judged this incident as «the creation of a situation that provoked misunderstanding and disputes among believers, including on political grounds» and warned the clergy of the Minsk Eparchy against repeating similar incidents.

On 5 January 2023, it became known that the priest was detained by GUBOPiK (Ministry of Internal Affairs Department for Combating Organised Crime and Corruption); his so-called «penitential» video was published in one of the police-related Telegram channels. In addition to the «penitential» video, the police also forced the priest to strip to the waist and photographed him with a tattoo on his right shoulder representing the Pahonia coat of arms and the inscription ‘Belarus’. This photo with the naked torso of the priest was also published by the police on the internet.

He got 14 days of administrative arrest.


Rev. MIKHAIL MARUGO, Orthodox Church (Minsk)

Rev. Mikhail Marugo

Clergyman of St. Vladimir Khiraska parish in Minsk.

On 28 February 2022, he was detained during an anti-war rally in the vicinity of the Minsk railway station. He was holding a bouquet of flowers. On 2 March, he was punished with 13-day administrative arrest which he served in the temporary detention centre in Žodzino.


ALEH NAHORNY, Orthodox Church (Minsk)

Aleh Nahorny

Aleh Nahorny, an Orthodox faithful, publicist, a well-known researcher of sects in Belarus, author of the blog Sectologist On-duty, and editor of the site about sects, sekty.by. Nagorny studied at the Minsk Theological Seminary in Žyrovičy. He was a lecturer at many events and created — with the support of the Orthodox Church — the Center for the Protection of Health of Family and Person. The Christian Vision website frequently published his anti-war texts and his assessments of the political crisis in Belarus. He was detained on 8 November, but this only became known on 10 November 2022 when a so-called “repentant“ video with him appeared on the GUBOPiK (Ministry of Internal Affairs Department for Combating Organised Crime and Corruption; routinely used for political persecutions and violence) Telegram channel; there, Nahorny is referred to as a “sectarian” and accused of allegedly distributing “fascist symbols” (although Nahorny has consistently opposed extremism and radicalism). He is threatened with a criminal case for “inciting hostility towards the Russians”. He was sentenced to a 15-day administrative arrest under art. 19.10 of the Administrative Code (Propaganda or public demonstration, production, distribution of Nazi symbols or paraphernalia). It turned out that Employees of the Belarusian police told Nahorny that his prosecution was for anti-war publications and exposing the Z-ideology; a complaint about it was received in Russian law enforcement agencies. It should be assumed — based on the earlier threat of the Belarusian believer — that the author of the complaint was Nikolai Kuznetsov (hiding under the nickname Alexei Kirillin) writing for the Russian People’s Line.

After being released, Aleh Nahorny fled abroad and cooperates with the project «Christians Against War».


Rev. ANDREI NAZDRYN, Orthodox Church (Hrodna)

Rev. Andrei Nazdryn

Clergyman of Hrodna diocese, rector of parish of Transfiguration in village Komatava (Hrodna district).

It is known that following Volha Bondarava’s denunciation in connection with Rev. Nazdryn’s views on the war in Ukraine, the police conducted “a prophylactic conversation about compliance with the law and prevention of extremist offences and crimes” with him. On 18 May, the priest was dismissed from all positions in the Hrodna eparchy: rector of the St Spyridon of Trimythous parish in Hrodna, head of the missionary department and responsible for physical culture and sports in the Hrodna eparchy.


Archpriest PIOTR PRAKAPTSOU, Orthodox Church (agro-town Prybytki, Homieĺ voblasć)

Rev. Piotr Prakaptsou

The priest of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary parish in the agro-town of Prybytka (Homieĺ district, Homieĺ voblasć) located 5 km from the airfield in Ziabraŭka used by Russian troops for air strikes on Ukraine.

Rev. Piotr Prakaptsou was repeatedly approached by the Russian military stationed near ​​the airfield in Ziabraŭka with a request to consecrate military equipment. He categorically refused and, to avoid pressure, went on a pilgrimage to the Holy Spirit Monastery in Vilnius, Lithuania. Archbishop Stefan (Neshcharet) of Homieĺ threatened Rev. Prakaptsou to defrock him; the priest was forced to return. Rev. Prakaptsou was immediately summoned to the bishop and, straight after this conversation with the bishop, he received a call from the Homieĺ KGB department. The priest was questioned by a KGB operative about the reasons for the trip to Lithuania, how he arranged a visa, and whether he collaborated with Christian Vision. Rev. Prakaptsou was forced to sign a statement warning against illegal actions, sponsoring terrorist activities, disseminating information discrediting the political regime and the president of the Republic of Belarus to foreign media, and calling for strikes. Fearing further pressure, the priest was forced to leave the country. He was banned from practising his priesthood by Archbishop Stefan (Nieshcharet) of Homieĺ. Rev. Prakaptsou shared his experience in more detail and explained his position in an interview with Christian Vision.


Christians of Evangelical Faith (Pentecostals)

Pastor ALIAKSANDR ZARETSKI, Evangelical Church in Novalukoml (Čašniki district, Viciebsk voblasc)

Pastor Aliaksandr Zaretski

Pastor Aliaksandr Zaretski, Evangelical Church in Novalukoml (Čašniki district, Viciebsk voblasc).

Zaretski prayed and advocated in his sermons for ending the war in Ukraine. Local state-employed propagandidsts have repeatedly cautioned the pastor for this and threatened persecution.

On 22 February  2024, the pastor was detained. He was subjected to administrative arrest for 15 days under Article 19.11 of the Administrative Code (Distribution of extremist materials).

He was supposed to be released on 8 March, but on 6 March 2024, he was re-arrested for 15 days under Part 1 of Art. 24.23 Code of Administrative Offenses (Violation of the procedure for organising and holding mass events), based on the sermon and public prayer about to the war in Ukraine during a church worship.

Judge A.S. Smirnova considered the case. The court decision includes the following phrases, which the judge considered participation in an illegal mass event: “Let us pray for those who are in prison for fabricated cases”; “Look how top officials say one thing, but people see something else on the streets”; “we are told to say that everything is fine, that we like it all and are satisfied with everything, and sometimes it’s just easier to agree”; “people in the U. are traitors: when the Russians came, they fell at their feet”; “let’s pray for U., come to prayers for U.”

Previously, Zaretski  had already been detained for speaking out against violence and lawlessness in Belarus.


Full Gospel Church

Pastor VIACHASLAU HANCHARENKA, New Life Full Gospel Church (Minsk)

Pastor Viachaslau Hancharenka

Pastor Viachaslau Hancharenka, New Life Full Gospel Church, Minsk, Belarus.

On 4 March 2022, Hancharenka made a public appeal to the President’s Administration, the State Secretariat of the Security Council, the Ministry of Defense, the Council of Ministers, the House of Representatives and the Council of the Republic of the National Assembly of the Republic of Belarus, as well as the Republican Committee of the Belarusian Organisation of Soldiers’ Mothers. In the appeal he said, in particular:

«As a pastor and servant of God, I implore you before God and our Lord Jesus Christ who will judge the living and the dead at His appearing and His Kingdom, not to allow a great evil to happen – the participation of Belarus in the war against Ukraine… I ask you to make every effort to prevent the participation of the Belarusian military, as well as civilians, in this war. I ask Belarus to contribute in every possible way to peace, including not providing the territory of Belarus as a springboard for military operations».

On September 20, 2022, Hancharenka was invited to the Frunzienski district police department in Minsk and detained there; on the same day, he was fined 100 basic units (3,200 Belarusian rubles). On 15 August 2023, the Minsk District Court arrested Hancharenka for ten days under Article 24.3 of the Code of Administrative Offenses of the Republic of Belarus (Disobedience to a lawful order or requirement of an official in the exercise of official powers). His relative was accused of “using obscene language and waving his arms” and arrested for five days under Article 19. 1 of the Code of Administrative Offences of the Republic of Belarus (Minor hooliganism).

The New Life church community suffered a series of persecutions. On 20 June 2023, demolition of the building on 72 Kovalova Street began. On 17 October 2023, the Minsk City Court decided to close the New Life Full Gospel Church. The community filed an appeal to the Supreme Court. On 12 December 2023, the Supreme Court confirmed the lower court’s decision and made the final decision on the closure of the New Life Church with immediate effect.


Roman Catholic Church in Belarus

Rev. ALIAKSANDR BARAN, Roman Catholic Church (Lyntupy)

Rev. Aliaksandr Baran

The rector of the parish in Lyntupy (Viciebsk region).

He was detained on 25 March 2022 under art. 24.23 (unauthorized picketing) of the Code of Administrative Offences for the white-red-white Belarusian and the Ukrainian flags on his social media avatar and art. 19.11 (dissemination of extremist materials). Spent 6 days in a temporary detention centre. On 4 April, a court in Pastavy sentenced the priest to 10 days of arrest. It became known on 10 August 2022 that he again was sentenced to 17 days of arrest under art. 24.23.


Rev. ANDRZEJ BULCZAK, Roman Catholic Church (Pastavy)

Rev. Andrzej Bulczak

The rector of the Merciful Jesus parish in Pastavy (Viciebsk region). 

He was supposed to be tried on 25 March 2022 for the video about the opposition to war among Belarusian. Rev Bulczak is a Polish citizen; he lived in Belarus for 14 years. Because of the threat of persecution, he was forced to flee the country. On 13 May, he was fined in absentia 30 basic units under art. 19.11 (dissemination of extremist materials) of the Code of Administrative Offences.


ALIAKSANDR DANILEVICH, Roman Catholic Church (Minsk)

Aliaksandr Danilevich

Aliaksandr Stanislavavich Danilevich, a parishioner of St Simeon and St Elena parish in Minsk (Red Church), lawyer, and father of many children.

He was detained on 20 May 2022 as part of a criminal case. He was kept in the KGB pre-trial detention centre. He was charged under part 3 of art. 361 (Calls for restrictive measures (sanctions), other actions aimed at causing harm to the national security of Belarus) of the Criminal Code and moved to the pre-trial detention centre (SIZO) no. 1 in Minsk. Shortly before his arrest, Danilevich signed an anti-war appeal of Belarusian lawyers against the war in Ukraine. His decision he explained by faith in God and the desire to follow God’s commandments. Soon after, disciplinary proceedings were initiated against him by the professional body. Danilevich was also dismissed from the Belarusian State University where he taught for more than 20 years at the Faculty of International Relations. A political prisoner. On 10 April 2023 he was sentenced for 10 years in a penal colony.


Rev. ANDREI KEULICH, Roman Catholic Church (Horki)

Rev. Andrei Keulich

The dean of the Mahilioŭ deanery and rector of the Mother of God of Bialyničy parish in Horki (Mahiloŭ region). 

He was detained after Mass in the church on 18 April 2022. In the Horki District Department of Internal Affairs, a protocol was drawn up against him under part 2 of art. 19.11 of the Code of Administrative Offences in connection with Facebook reposts from the independent media Belsat and Radio Liberty regarding the Russian military aggression against Ukraine. His mobile phone was seized. On 12 May, a court fined the priest 20 basic units.


Rev. IGOR LACHOUK, Roman Catholic Church (Stoŭbcy)

Rev. Igor Lachouk

The rector of the St Kazimir parish in Stoŭbcy (Minsk region).

On 4 March 2022 he led a pilgrimage along the border with Ukraine with a statue of the Archangel Michael. During the event «exorcisms to expel the demon of war from the Kremlin were read”. On 20 April, the priest received a summons for “dissemination of extremist materials” (art. 19.11) on social media. The court hearing took place on 28 April. The priest was fined 30 base units.


Rev. YAUHEN UCHKURONIS, Roman Catholic Church (Smargoń)

Rev. Yauhen Uchkuronis

The rector of the St John Paul II parish in Smargoń (Hrodna region). 

He was accused of distributing ‘extremist materials’ for reposting on Facebook publications of Belarusian independent media regarded by the regime authorities as ‘extremist’. On 8 July the priest was fined 20 basic units.


Rev. ANDREI VASHCHUK SDS, Roman Catholic Church (Viciebsk)

Rev. Andrei Vashchuk SDS

The rector of the Holy Spirit parish in Viciebsk. 

He was detained on 15 July under part 1 of art. 24.23 (violation of the procedure for organizing or holding mass events) of the Code of Administrative Offences. He was kept in the Pieršamajski District Department of Internal Affairs in Viciebsk until the trial. The case file included a Facebook profile picture with a white-red-white flag, as well as other “protest” photos, including with the flag of Ukraine. He was subjected to a 15-day administrative arrest twice: on 18 July, then on 23 July it became known that he was re-arrested for another 15 days. Pro-government Telegram channels launched a discrediting campaign against him. On 15 August, he fled the country. On 9 September, the priest was fined in absentia 320 rubles under art. 19.10.


An overview of the persecution of clergy in the context of the unfolding Russian aggression against Ukraine was published by the Norwegian human rights organization, Forum 18, in its report, Persecution of Christian Leaders Who Oppose the Violence of the Regime and the War with Ukraine, on 13 April 2022; as well as Natallia Vasilevich in her column for DW, The War in Ukraine as a New Impetus for the Belarusian Church Protest, on 16 April 2022. Both reports state that the activities of the clergy are monitored because they are people of authority in their communities.


Kazakhstan

Metropolia of the Russian Orthodox Church in the Republic of Kazakhstan

Hieromonk IAKOV (VORONTSOV), Metropolia of the Russian Orthodox Church in the Republic of Kazakhstan

Hieromonk Iakov (Vorontsov)

Hieromonk Iakov (Vorontsov), born in 1986, cleric of the Ascension Cathedral in Almaty. After the beginning of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, he made a public statement about the need for Kazakhstan to withdraw from the Collective Security Treaty Organization arguing that it was necessary «to fence off the aggressor in every possible way.» He also denounced the Russian invasion and its support on his social media. The Ahilla project produced a selection of his anti-war statements.

The priest also signed the appeal of the clergy of the Russian Orthodox Church for reconciliation and an end to the war in Ukraine.

Later, the Dean of the Cathedral, Archpriest Alexander Suvorov, mentioned in a Facebook post that the hieromonk was suspended from ministry without a ban on ministry. This was also reported by the Ahilla project.

On 19 June, the hieromonk posted on Facebook about the termination of his ministry in the Russian Orthodox Church saying that he was leaving for a «sabbatical».


Lithuania

Previously Lithuanian Diocese in jurisdiction of the Moscow Patriarchate / Currently jurisdiction of the Ecumenical Patriarchate

Very Rev. VITALIJUS MOCKUS, Rev. VITALIS DAUPARAS, Rev. GINTARAS SUNGAILA, Rev. GEORGY ANANIEV, Very Rev. VLADIMIR SELIAVKO, Deacon GEORGY TSEBUREVKIN, Orthodox Church of Lithuania (Lithuania)

Very Rev. Vitalijus Mockus

At the beginning of March 2022, Very Rev. Vitalius Mockus, then Chancellor of the Orthodox Church of Lithuania, as well as Rev. Vitalis Dauparas and Rev. Gintaras Sungaila criticized in the media and on social networks the Patriarch of Moscow Kirill for his sermons which justified Russia’s military invasion of Ukraine.

On 17 March, an Eparchial meeting took place in Vilnius. At the meeting, Metropolitan Innokentiy asked all those present what to do next regarding the war.


Rev. Vitalis Dauparas

Mockus, Dauparas, and Sungaila proposed to suspend the commemoration of Patriarch Cyril, while Rev. Ananiev called on the Metropolitan to consider a possible change in the eparchy’s jurisdiction.

All proposals were rejected and the priests were reprimanded for their social networks activities. Rev. Sungaila and Rev. Dauparas requested resignations from minisrty for reasons of consciencious objections.


Rev. Gintaras Sungaila

Consequently, Metropolitan Innokentiy issued a strong-worded, first since the beginning of the war, appeal: “The position of the Orthodox Church in Lithuania is unchanged: we strongly condemn Russia’s war against Ukraine and pray to God for its speedy end. As you may have already noticed, Patriarch Kirill and I have different political views and takes on current events. His political statements about the war in Ukraine are his personal opinion. We in Lithuania do not agree with that.

The next week, the Metropolitan summoned Rev. Sungaila and Rev. Dauparas and informed that he did not accept their resignations from ministry and suggested that they would continue without commemorating the Patriarch in St Paraskeva Pyatnitskaya church; the priests accepted it and continued their ministry.

Very Rev. Vladimir Seliavko

Unexpectedly, on the same day of 14 April, Very Rev. Vitalius Mockus was dismissed from the posts of Chancellor of the Orthodox Church of Lithuania, the rector at the Cathedral of the Theotokos and the Dean of the Vilnius deanery; while Rev. Gintaras Sungaila and Rev. Vitalis Dauparas were dismissed from ministry, and campaign to discredit the priests began. On 23 April, on the eve of Easter, the Metropolitan’s letter about the mentioned priests’ “knife in the back” was posted on the doors of all churches. Also, the collection of signatures under the petition “on maintaining the unity of the Lithuanian Orthodox Church” was organised; after 3 months of intensive collection in all parishes, the signatures were handed over to the President of Lithuania, Gintaras Nausėda, on 8 July.

Rev. Georgy Ananiev

On the feast of the Vilna Martyrs, which was specially moved from 27 April to Saturday of Bright Week on 29 April, a procession was held against the mentioned above priests. Several hundred people were brought by bus from all over Lithuania. After the Liturgy, a “procession of the cross for the unity of the Orthodox Church in Lithuania and for peace in Ukraine” was arranged; at the end, a prayer service was held and many years were offered to Patriarch Kirill, while the mentioned priests were called by name in a special litany as those who fell into schism.


Dn. Georgy Tseburevkin

On 10 May, five priests — Vitalius Mockus, Vitalis Dauparas, Gintras Sungaila, Georgy Ananiev, and Vladimir Seliavko — were dismissed from ministry; deacon Georgy Tseburevkin’s request for dismissal made in solidarity with the above-mentioned priests was satisfied. On 23 June, Gintaras Sungaila was defrocked; on 29 June Vitalius Mockus, Vitalis Dauparas, Georgy Ananyev, and Vladimir Seliavko were also defrocked.


Russia

Adventists of the Seventh Day

ALEXEY GALIMOV, Adventist of the Seventh Day (Vladivostok, Russia)

Alexey Galimov

Alexey Galimov, the father of three children, believer of the Church of Adventists of the Seventh Day in Vladivostok, Russia. Since the beginning of a full-scale war, he spoke out against it on social networks, and since February 2023 he held single-person pickets. On 1 February 2023, he came out with the banner with a biblical verse, ‘Do not kill’. On 24 February, he stood with another batter, ‘Do not fight, for you will not get success’.

Following the pickets, he was detained without drawing up the protocol. After one of those pickets, a psychiatric emergency team arrived at the police department. Galimov was taken to a psychiatric hospital for a conversation. He was also subjected to ‘preventive’ detention on other occasions.

On 9 March 2023, at 6.20am, the special forces group broke into Galimov’s apartment smashing the door and applying violence to Galimov. He was threatened with criminal prosecution and torture, withforcing him to sign a contrcat with the Wagner military group to go to the front. Eventually, he was released.

He felt he had to move to another place with his family. After the police came to his mother’s apartment on 12 June 12 2023, he left Russia and asked for political asylum in the United States.


Christians of Evangelical Faith (Pentecostals)

ANDREY KAPATSYNA, Evangelical Christian (Magadan)

Andrey Andreevich Kapatsyna (b. 17 January 1995), a Pentecostal Christian from Magadan.

Kapatsyna was assigned to the same military unit as Vyacheslav Reznichenko; he also refused to be sent to Ukraine in the autumn of 2022.

The story of the mobilised air traffic controller was told by Sibir.Realii with reference to the Military Lawyers Telegram channel. He was drafted up on 22 September 2022 during a ‘partial mobilisation’, although as an air traffic controller, he was supposed to be excluded from mobilisation. He refused to follow the order to leave the military unit for the combat zone in Ukraine twice. A criminal case was initiated against him under part 2.1 of Article 332 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation.

At the trial, Kapatsyna insisted that he “cannot pick up a weapon and use it against other people.” On 29 June 2023, the court in Vladivostok sentenced him to two years and ten months of imprisonment in a penal colony.

Kapatsyna appealed the sentence, which is close to the upper limit of the range of 2 to 3 years part 2.1 of Article 332 of the Criminal Code assumes. On 17 August 2023, the Military Court of the Pacific Fleet, according to court records, upheld the initial decision. Kapatsyna was able to return to the Magadan region to serve his sentence. Russian human rights organization Memorial recognized Andrey Kapatsyna as a political prisoner.

His address is:

685918, Splavnaya village, Khasynsky district, Magadan oblast, Colony Settlement No. 2 of the Federal Penitentiary Service of Russia for the Magadan oblast.


MAXIM MAKUSHIN, Evangelical Christians (Murmansk, Russia)

Maxim Makushin

Maxim Vladimirovich Makushin, Pentecostal Christian, contract soldier who served twelve years in the Arctic port city of Murmansk.

Makushin “openly spoke about his refusal to participate in the war for religious reasons, including to an Orthodox judge who ridiculed his faith,” an acquaintance of his told the human rights organisation, Forum 18, on 2 October 2023.

The military prosecutor’s office accused him of «failure by a subordinate to comply with an order from a superior given in the prescribed manner during martial law, in wartime, or in conditions of an armed conflict or hostilities, as well as refusal to participate in military or hostilities,» because he «refused to kill Ukrainians,” an acquaintance living abroad wrote on Makushin’s social networks on 29 September 2023.

On 28 September 2023, the Murmansk Garrison Military Court found Makushin guilty under Article 332, part 2.1 of the Criminal Code. Judge Vladimir Titarenko sentenced Makushin to two years and eight months in a penal colony.

An acquaintance of Makushin said that the believer is now at home awaiting the consideration of his appeal. Appeals are considered by the Military Court of the Northern Fleet. On 4 October, the human rights organisation, Forum 18, asked the Murmansk Garrison Military Court about the reasons for not supporting Makushin’s constitutional right to alternative civilian service, given that the Constitution should take precedence over other laws. As of the end of business day in Murmansk on 9 October, Forum 18 had not received a response.


Pastor MIKHAIL MANZURIN, Kingdom of Glory, Moscow

Pastor Mikhail Manzurin

Pastor of the Evangelical Kingdom of Glory church, Moscow. After the beginning of the full-scale Russian invasion of Ukraine, he prayed for Ukraine at weekly services, but did not pray for Russia’s victory. After the worship, during a tea with church parishioners, he told them that Russia’s actions in Ukraine were wrong.

The Manzurins’ opposition to the war led to their community to shrink to such an extent that on some Sundays the only people who participated in worship were the Manzurins themselves. The parents of Manzurin’s students saw his anti-war posts on social media and complained to the director of the language school. The director reproached Manzurin for behaving unpatriotically and un-Christianly. Manzurin was forced to resign.

After the announcement of partial mobilization, Manzurin left Russia: first to Kazakhstan, then he reached Mexico where he received permission to enter the United States for humanitarian reasons. He is awaiting a decision on his political asylum claim in the United States.

The Christianity Today published a large article about the Manzurin family.


Bishop ALBERT RATKIN, The New Word Church (Kaluga, Russia)

Bishop Albert Ratkin

Protestant bishop Albert Ratkin of the New Word Church in Kaluga, former Bishop of the Russian Union of Evangelical Christians (ROSHVE) in Kaluga and special representative on international relations of the Bishop of the Russian United Union of Evangelical Christians (Pentecostals) Sergey Ryakhovsky, was expelled from ROSHVE in 2021 for criticizing the leadership and its political involvement with the Russian authorities.

Ratkin runs the YouTube channel View from Heaven where he often makes anti-war statements.

In May 2022, in connection with Ratkin’s anti-war position, his personal car was vandalized: paint and construction foam were poured on the car and Z and V symbols were painted on it.

On 8 August 2023, it became known that the Moscow Department of the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation opened a criminal case against Ratkin’s associate, Baptist pastor Yuri Sipko, for spreading “fake news” about the Russian army instigated by political hatred. As part of this criminal case, Bishop Albert Ratkin in Kaluga was also searched, he was detained and interrogated and is currently in the status of a witness in the case. Ratkin was released from the FSB department under a non-disclosure agreement.

During the detention of Bishop Albert Ratkin and a search of pastor Sipko’s apartment, the Investigative Committee filmed and published a video showing a “blurred” portrait of Hitler on the desk with deliberate fixation of attention on it. it was anti-fascist material – a DVD of the popular BBC documentary series, Rise of the Nazis.

In another video filmed in Albert Ratkin’s office after the search, a book of similar content featured – Erwin W. Lutzer’s Hitler’s Cross exploring the lessons from the history of the Third Reich church, in particular of the church serves not God but a misanthropic ideology.

While reporting on the initiation of a prosecution and searches, federal TV channels, in particular –  First and NTV,  referred to Protestant communities of Baptists and Pentecostals as “pseudo-religious” or “radical religious” organisations, “centres of influence sponsored by foreign intelligence services”, “American cult”, “extremist sects”. These statements have signs of hate speech, they are aimed at discrediting religious communities.


Bishop NIKOLAI ULITIN, The New Generation Church (Krasnodar Krai, Russia)

Bishop Nikolai Ulitin

Christian preacher and bishop of the southern region of New Generation churches in Krasnodar Krai, 53 years old. He ministered in the stanitsa of Poltava, Krasnodar Krai, together with his wife. They have six children. Every year he preached at the young Christians’ conference on the Black Sea coast.

The persecution was provoked by a pastoral conference in Ramenskoye, near Moscow, in which, apart from clergy from Russia, a pastor from the Ukrainian New Generation church participated. Earlier, being accused of supporting the Ukrainian Azov regiment, the New Generation church was named “undesirable” on the territory of the Russian Federation.

Security forces arrived at the event attended by about 150 people. The believers were forced to lie face down on the floor. Later, administrative protocols were drawn up against them based on participation in the activities of an “undesirable” organisation. Among others, as participants in this conference, Yugov and Ulitin were fined.

During an inspection, investigators discovered that the bishop was involved in the activities of the Ukrainian New Generation church, which is recognized in Russia as undesirable. A criminal case was brought against him under Part 3 of Art. 284.1 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation (Organising the activities of a foreign or international non-governmental organization, the activities of which have been recognized as undesirable on the territory of the Russian Federation in accordance with the legislation of the Russian Federation).

On 14 August 2022, police searched various branches of the New Generation church.

On the morning of 14 August, Ulitin was detained at the family home. During a search, a Ukrainian passport and an «underground rehabilitation centre for alcoholics and drug addicts» were found. The bishop was taken to Moscow and arrested for two months.

On 18 July 2023, Ulitin and the head of the New Generation, Svyatoslav Yugov, were sentenced to 3.5 years in a penal colony. They are serving their sentences in one of the penal colonies in the Komi Republic.

According to Russian media, Ulitin and Yugov “forced believers to transfer property to the church, and most of the donations were sent to Ukrainian nationalists. In addition, adherents of the sect called for the overthrow of the government.” Also, ‘extremist’ literature, a Ukrainian passport and currency were found in Yugov’s flat and Ulitin’s country house.

On 14 October 2023, a court hearing heard the pastors’ appeal. Their lawyers insisted that the New Generation organisation, an umbrella for Pentecostal churches, was currently registered in the Russian Federation independently from the Ukrainian one. Consequently, the pastors’ fault consisted only of communication with a pastor from Ukraine. A lawyer asked the court to take into account that both clergy have families and children. Ulitin and Yugov ultimately repented and asked to commute their sentence. The court refused to appeal for both.


Pastor SVYATOSLAV YUGOV, New Generation Church (Chelyabinsk, Russia)

Pastor Svyatoslav Yugov

Pastor of the Evangelical New Life church in Chelyabinsk. According to the Unified State Register of Legal Entities, Yugov is also the founder of two commercial organizations, one charity, as well as the Central Religious Organization of Evangelical Christians Pentecostals (the New Generation Association) and its branch in Kopeysk, Chelyabinsk oblast.

The persecution was provoked by a pastoral conference in Ramenskoye, near Moscow, in which, apart from clergy from Russia, a pastor from the Ukrainian New Generation church participated. Earlier, being accused of supporting the Ukrainian Azov regiment, the New Generation church was named “undesirable” on the territory of the Russian Federation.

Security forces arrived at the event attended by about 150 people. The believers were forced to lie face down on the floor. Later, administrative protocols were drawn up against them based on participation in the activities of an “undesirable” organisation. Among others, as participants in this conference, Yugov and Ulitin were fined.

In 2018, Yugov was accused of meeting abroad with New Generation pastors from Ukraine who were looking for paramedics to work in the conflict zone in Donbas.

On 14 August 2022, police searched various branches of the New Generation church. The Russian media published a photograph of Yugov’s Schengen visa.

On 20 April 2023, the Basmanny Court of Moscow arrested Yugov under Part 3 of Art. 284.1 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation (Organising the activities of a foreign or international non-governmental organization, the activities of which have been recognized as undesirable on the territory of the Russian Federation in accordance with the legislation of the Russian Federation). In 2021, the Prosecutor General’s Office of the Russian Federation recognized the association of the New Generation churches as undesirable in Russia.

On 18 July 2023, a court in Moscow oblast, sentenced Yugov, as well as Nikolai Ulitin, a bishop of the New Generation churches, to 3.5 years in a penal colony. They are serving their sentences in one of the penal colonies in the Komi Republic.

According to Russian media, Yugov and Ulitin “forced believers to transfer property to the church, and most of the donations were sent to Ukrainian nationalists. In addition, adherents of the sect called for the overthrow of the government.” Also, ‘extremist’ literature, a Ukrainian passport and currency were found in Yugov’s flat and Ulitin’s country house.

On 14 October 2023, a court hearing heard the pastors’ appeal. Their lawyers insisted that the New Generation organisation, an umbrella for Pentecostal churches, was currently registered in the Russian Federation independently from the Ukrainian one. Consequently, the pastors’ fault consisted only of communication with a pastor from Ukraine. A lawyer asked the court to take into account that both clergy have families and children. Ulitin and Yugov ultimately repented and asked to commute their sentence. The court refused to appeal for both.


Evangelical Christian Baptists

NINA BELYAEVA, Baptist (Voronezh, Russia)

Nina Belyaeva

The believer and councillor of the Semiluki District Council of the Voronezh Region condemned the Russian aggression against Ukraine on her social media. On 22 March, an argument broke out at a meeting of the district council: the councillors started discussing Belyaeva’s position; she published this debate on her Telegram channel. In her speech, she noted that “the killing of people on the territory of another state that has no aim of defending one’s own country has nothing to do with the Christian faith… What is happening today cannot be compared with following Christ. A Christian is not one who wears a cross on their neck. A Christian is one who follows Christ. For whom the Word of God, the authority of Christ is much higher than the authority of the President than the opinion of the Patriarch”. In an interview with the Moscow Times on 8 April, she said that she could not stay silent, otherwise she would not be able to «feel like a Christian and human being». Due to persecution, Belyaeva left Russia in April and currently lives in Latvia.

According to the Norwegian human rights organization Forum 18, on 29 April the Investigative Committee of the Voronezh Oblast declared Belyaeva a suspect under the newly introduced article 207.3 (public dissemination of knowingly false information about the use of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation) of the Criminal Code; she was charged on 23 June and put on the wanted list. The investigation of the criminal case continued in cooperation with the Voronezh FSB. On 22 June, a ‘red notice’ was filed to Interpol to search for Belyaeva; on 24 June, the Leninsky district court issued a warrant for the arrest of the believer for a period of two months. On 27 June, the Investigative Committee of the Voronezh Oblast announced on its website that Belyaeva had also been charged twice with committing a crime under part 2 of article 205.2 (public calls for terrorist activities, public justification of terrorism or propaganda of terrorism) of the Criminal Code committed “with using the mass media or electronic or information and telecommunication networks, including the internet” because of her interview with an unnamed foreign blogger. 20 out of 23 councillors of the Semiluki District council voted for withdrawing Belyaeva’s councillor immunity. Since 3 August, the councillor has been on the list of terrorists and extremists of Rosfinmonitoring.

Nina Belyaeva also joined the appeal of other municipal councillors demanding Putin’s resignation.


Pastor ALEKSANDR LEGOSTAEV, Evangelical Christian-Baptist (Orel, Russia)

Alexander Legostaev

Pastor at the Evangelical Christians-Baptists Church in the city of Orel, father of many children.

After the start of the Russian invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, he posted an anti-war video message My Opinion !!! (not available at the moment) on the VK social network. An administrative prosecution was initiated against him under part 1 of art. 20.3.3 of the Code of Administrative Offenses of the Russian Federation (Public actions aimed at discrediting the use of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation). His video message was sent for an investigation, which concluded that “the complex text contains statements that negatively assess the ‘special operation’ carried out by the Russian Federation on the territory of Ukraine: “This bloody invasion of Ukraine is overkill. This is not just a special operation, because the special operation, as we were told, is aimed at individual militants, but now we see how civilians are dying, how civilians should leave their homes.””

On 8 August, a trial took place in the Orlovsky District Court of the Orel oblast. The pastor denied his guilt in committing any offences. However, judge E.V. Lyadnova decided that Legostaev was guilty and fined him 30,000 Russian rubles (about 400 Euros).


PETR OSHCHEPKOV, Evangelical Christian Baptist (Barabinsk, Novosibirsk oblast, Russia)

A Baptist believer from Barabinsk, Novosibirsk oblast, Russia, father of five children, railway depot driver.

Petr Oshchepkov

In 2022, he went out on solo pickets against the Russian invasion of Ukraine and made anti-war social media posts. On 24 February 2022, he went to the first anti-war picket with a home-made poster “Putin is crazy, alas. And you?» His anti-war protest activities were punished with three administrative fines, in total 45,000 Russian rubles (about 560 Euros). The religious activist was also subjected to attempts of job dismissal.

Earlier, Oshchepkov was expelled from the Baptist church in the city of Barabinsk for political reasons. The initiator of the expulsion was pastor Ivan Kharchenko, presumably the brother of Leonid Kharchenko — one of the three persons sentenced to life imprisonment by the district court of The Hague in the case of shooting down a Malaysian Boeing from the territory of the unrecognized Donetsk People’s Republic in 2014.


VYACHESLAV REZNICHENKO, International Union of Evangelical Christian Baptist Churches (village Zarubino, Russian Far East, Russia)

Vyacheslav Reznichenko

Vyacheslav Reznichenko (b. 23 October 1998) is a believer of a church belonging to the International Union of Evangelical Christian Baptist Churches, village of Zarubino, Russian Far East. He is married and father of a small child. Reznichenko comes from a large Christian family with nine children. In the church, he took part in evangelisation, in the construction of a house of prayer and in preaching.

In September 2022, he was drafted into the army. He immediately declared his religious convictions and refused to go to the war zone in Ukraine; despite that, he was still included into the mobilization. He refused to sign a contract and take part in fighting due to religious beliefs.

A criminal case was initiated against Reznichenko. After five court hearings, he was sentenced to two and a half years in a penal colony.

Reznichenko unsuccessfully appealed the verdict to the Military Court of the Pacific Fleet on 21 August 2023. He arrived at the penal colony in Vladivostok to begin serving his sentence on 18 September 2023.

Letters to Reznichenko can be sent electronically or via mail at:
Colony-settlement No. 49 of the State Penitentiary Service of the Primorsky Krai (e-mail)
Address: 690074 Vladivostok, Vyselkovaya Street, 48.


Pastor YURI SIPKO, Baptist (Moscow)

Pastor Yuri Sipko

From 2002 to 2010, Pastor Yuri Sipko was the chair of the Russian Union of Evangelical Christian Baptists, former vice-president of the World Baptist Alliance.

Since the beginning of Russian aggression against Ukraine, he has consistently spoken out against the war in his sermons, statements, interviews and on social media. Since 2014, he has opposed the annexation of Crimea.

On 8 August 2023, it became known that the Moscow Department of the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation initiated a criminal case against Sipko under paragraph ‘e’ of Part 2 of Art. 207.3 Part 2 Para. E of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation (Public dissemination of knowingly false information about the use of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation based on political, ideological, racial, ethnic or religious hatred). He is charged with publishing in March 2022 “a video for an unlimited circle of people”, which, allegedly “according to a psychological and linguistic assessment, contains deliberately false information” about the actions of the Russian army in Ukraine.

Searches were carried out at Sipko’s house and church, as well as at his associates. Having learned about the prosecution initiated against him, the pastor managed to leave Russia. During the search, the security forces found the Sipko’s son; he was detained and interrogated at the Investigative Committee as a witness. It also became known that a search took place at bishop Albert Ratkin’s home of in Kaluga. He was also detained and interrogated, and is currently in the status of a witness in the case. Ratkin was released from the FSB department undre a non-disclosure agreement. In the past, Ratkin provided a platform for Sipko on his YouTube channel View from Heaven.

During the arrest of Bishop Albert Ratkin and a search of pastor Sipko’s apartment, the Investigative Committee employees filmed and published a video in order to discredit the clergy’s anti-fascist position. In the video, a blurred image of Hitler was shown on the desk; in reality, it was anti-fascist material – a DVD of the popular BBC documentary series, Rise of the Nazis.

While reporting on the initiation of a prosecution and searches, federal TV channels, in particular – First and NTV, refererd to Protestant communities of Baptists and Pentecostals as “pseudo-religious” or “radical religious” organisations, “centers of influence sponsored by foreign intelligences”, “American cult”, “extremist sects”. These statements have signs of hate speech, they are aimed at discrediting religious communities.

Pastor Yuri Sipko was put on the wanted list.


SERGEY STEPANOV, Baptist (Tambov)

Sergey Stepanov

Sergei Stepanov, a journalist and Christian missionary, made the following post on his VK page: “Dear compatriots: our army is conducting full-scale military operations in another country, it is dropping bombs and rockets on the cities of our neighbouring Ukraine. We call on the authorities of our country to stop this senseless bloodshed.” After the Russian Federation legislation introducing responsibility for discrediting the Russian army and the actions of state institutions abroad came into power, Stepanov deleted his VK page. However, the Oktyabrsky district court of Tambov fined him 40,000 Russian rubles for discrediting the army. A linguistic examination was conducted by Shcherbak Antonina Semyonovna, a professor at Tambov State University, in March 2022.


Non-denominational Christians / Religious affiliation not established

EVGENIY MISHCHENKO (Moscow, Russia)

Evgeniy Mishchenko

Evgeniy Mishchenko is a volunteer at the Nemtsov Bridge memorial; a religious activist who carried posters containing religious quotes or appeals at some rallies.

He was detained in Moscow on 11 September 2023. During his arrest, security forces beat him and broke his ribs. He was accused of taking part in the Legion of Freedom of Russia, which is recognised as a terrorist organisation.

On 13 September, the Babushkinsky court was supposed to decide on a preventive measure for Mishchenko, however, on account of the beatings, he was taken from the courtroom by ambulance to the hospital.

On 14 September 2023, he was brought back to court, which sent Mishchenko to a pre-trial detention centre until 4 November. On 2 November 2023, the Babushkin District Court of Moscow extended his detention until 8 December. On 5 February 2024, the term of custody was prolonged until 7 March 2024.


VITALY VESELOV (Vladimir oblast, Russia)

Vitaly Sergeevich Veselov, Christian.

According to the human rights organisation, Forum 18, Veselov was drafted in the Vladimir oblast. In May 2023 he unsuccessfully attempted to have his mobilisation order declared invalid in the Vladimir Garrison Military Court. He unsuccessfully appealed to the 2nd Western District Military Court on 24 August, according to court records. His place of military service is currently unknown.


Rev. EDUARD CHAROV, non-denominational Christian (Krasnoufimsky district, Sverdlovsk oblast, Russia)

Eduard Charov

A non-denominational Christian, rector of the Christian Abode of Mercy (Almshouse) in the village of Savinovo, Krasnoufimsky district, Sverdlovsk oblast.

Charov wrote anti-war posts on his social media, urged not to go to the military recruitment offices and invited conscripts who “escaped from the moGilization” [play of words: mogila means a grave in Russian] to his ‘Almshouse’ offering temporary shelter, food, and costs to travel to other cities. According to Charov, one of the reasons to avoid mobilization is the mandatory vaccination of the mobilized causing them to ”die spiritually.»

On 7 April 2023, citing a source in the power structures, the Kommersant newspaper reported that Charov had been detained. A protocol was drawn up against him under art. 20.3.3 of the Code of Administrative Offences (Public actions aimed at discrediting the use of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation).

The cases against the preacher were heard on 18 April 2023 by the Krasnoufimsky District Court of the Sverdlovsk oblast. The court fined Charov 45,000 rubles under the article on discrediting the Russian army (Part 1 of Article 20.3.3 of the Administrative Code) and another 20,000 rubles – under the article on inciting hatred or enmity (Article 20.3.1 of the Administrative Code).
At the beginning of 2024, according to Charov’s wife’s report, a criminal case was opened against Charov for justifying terrorism (Article 205.2 of the Criminal Code). On 31 January 2024, security forces searched the shelter for the homeless and elderly, For Christ’s Sake, founded by Charov in the village of Savinovo near Krasnoufimsk. A tablet was seized. Currently, the preacher is prohibited from certain activities, incl. the use of the phone and internet; he also cannot leave the Krasnoufimsky district without the investigator’s permission.


Orthodox Apostolic Church

Believer EVGENY BESTUZHEV, OAC (St Petersburg, Russia)

Evgeny Bestuzhev

Believer Evgeny Bestuzhev (b. 1960), parishioner of the Martyr Maria Skobtsova community of the Orthodox Apostolic Church in St. Petersburg, political scientist, publicist, former employee of the Higher School of Economics in St Petersburg, a former coordinator of “Democratic Russia”, and co-chair of the St. Petersburg branch of Solidarity.

Back in 2015, with a group of Orthodox Christians of St Petersburg, Bestuzhev recorded an anti-war video protesting against Russia’s then “hybrid” war in Ukraine.

Since the beginning of Russia’s full scale invasion, he published antiwar materials in his social media. On 15 September 2022, a criminal case was initiated against him under paragraph D of part 2 of article 207.3 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation (Public distribution of knowingly false information about the use of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation based on hatred or enmity regarding any social group) for several of his posts on the VK social network. The details of the case were published by the human rights group “Memorial”.

The decision on the initiation of the case was made by the investigator of the Kalininsky district investigation department of the Main Investigative Department of the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation for St Petersburg, the senior lieutenant of justice A. Yanushko. Bestuzhev was detained on 9 November 2022. A search was conducted in his house; his computer was seized. On 10 November 2022, by a decision of the Kalininsky District Court of St. Petersburg judge Meshcheryakova, Bestuzhev was taken into custody until 15 December 2022. His detention has been periodically extended since then.


Orthodox Church of Russia

Archbishop VICTOR (PIVOVAROV), Orthodox Church of Russia (Slavyansk-on-Kuban, Russia)

Archbishop Victor (Pivovarov)

Victor (Pivovarov), Archbishop of Slavyansk and South Russia, previously belonged to the Orthodox Church of Russia in this capacity, since 2009 outside any jurisdictions; born in 1937.

On 1 March 2023, he delivered a sermon that the authorities considered discrediting the army; a protocol was drawn up against him.

According to the Kommersant publishing house, the clergyman was fined 40,000 Russian rubles by the Slavyansk City Court (Krasnodar Krai). What statements were incriminated to Pivovarov is unknown.

The Novaya Vkladka publisher published a large interview with Archbishop Victor.
 
On the morning of 3 October 2023, the security forces with machine guns detained Archbishop Viktor (Pivovarov) and his assistant, hieromonk Iona (Sigida). The church was searched; during the search, both clergy were stripped of clothes; and hieromonk was detained, while archbishop Victor was released, but the police warned him about the possibility of initiation of a criminal case if he continued to «discredit the army».

On December 28, 2023, Pivovarov told the Kavkaz.Realii media that a criminal case had indeed been opened against him. The basis for re-prosecution was his article «The answer to the question that worries everyone today: what is this war?»

The criminal case, according to OVD-Info referencing the court’s website, was submitted for consideration to the Slavyansky City Court of the Krasnodar Krai on 22 January 2024. On 27 February 2024, the trial of Archbishop Victor began. The next court hearing is scheduled for 11 March 2024.


Hieromonk IONA (SIGIDA), Orthodox Church of Russia (Slavyansk-on-Kuban, Russia)

Hieromonk Iona (Sigida)

Hieromonk Iona (Ilya Sigida) is an assistant to the Archbishop of Slavyanskiy and South Russia of the Rossiiskaya Orthodox Church (not part of the Moscow Patriarchate), Victor (Pivovarov). His place of residence is the church of the Intercession (Svyato-Pokrovsko-Tikhonovskiy) in Slovyansk-on-Kuban. Hieromonk published antiwar articles and articles criticizing the Moscow Patriarchate, Vladimir Putin and the church of the Ministry of Defense. On 5 May 2023, the Novaya Gazeta published a large report about the life and antiwar views of the leaders of the Orthodox community to which Hieromonk Iona belongs. The community does not belong to the Moscow Patriarchate.
 
On the morning of 3 October 2023, when Hieromonk Iona was asleep and Archbishop Victor (Pivovarov) was in the church, the security forces with machine guns burst into the church. They attacked Hieromonk, and twisted him on the floor face down; one pressed him to the floor with the knee on the back with such force that Hieromonk began to choke. He said that during the detention he was beaten to knock out the password from the computer. Police called him the Nazi and the fascist for the Ukrainian sites being open on the computer; they threatened to shave his beard. The details of the search and detention of Hieromonk were published by Novaya Gazeta.
 
The church was searched; Hieromonk Iona and Archbishop Victor were stripped of clothes during the search. The security forces verbally accused Sigid of publishing The Cult of War article on the church’s website. In their view, this fact “discredited” the army (Article 20.3.3 of the Code of Administrative Offenses). The court hearing of this case will take place on 20 November; the relevant note appeared on the Sloviansk City Court website.
 
On 4 October 2023, a court hearing took place; it found Sigid guilty of disobedience to the police (part 1 of Article 19.3 of the Administrative Code). He was arrested for two days.


Roman Catholic Church in Russia

GALINA BORISOVA, Catholic Church (Moscow, Russia)

Galina Borisova

Before the Mass, on 3 July 2022, retired actress Galina Borisova, a parishioner of the Moscow Roman Catholic church of St Louis, attached an anti-war leaflet to the Russian flag hanging in the altar. It contained «No bellum» (No war) written in Latin and «The flag of the aggressor country has no place next to the flag of the Holy See» — in Russian. According to Borisova, the leaflet hung for about five minutes and only one nun saw it. Sr Magdalina Filatova claimed that about fifty parishioners saw it, and she herself tore off the leaflet and threw it away. The church is located opposite the FSB HQ in Lubyanka.

On 20 July, the police arrived at Borisova’s home. She was taken to the police department of the Krasnoselsky district where a protocol was drawn up against her under part 1 of article 20.3.3 of the Code of Administrative Offenses. The leaflet was interpreted as a «public action» «aimed at discrediting the use of the armed forces […] for protection of the interests of the Russian Federation and its citizens.» The torn-up and glued-back-together leaflet was attached to the case file as material evidence. The OVD-Info Telegram channel reported that presumably Borisova was denounced by St Louis’ rector, Fr Vyacheslav Gorokhov, which resulted in the police report. However, Borisova deniedthis; she argued that the priest was forced to write a statement against her after she was identified from CCTV recordings, and the rector tried to annul his denunciation.

The Norwegian human rights organization, Forum-18, reported on 1 August that the case against Borisova was registered in the Meshchansky district court of Moscow.


MARIA KASSIANENKO, Catholic Church (St. Petersburg, Russia)

Maria Kasyanenko

On 21 September 2022, the day of the announcement of mobilization in Russia, Maria Kasyanenko took part in an anti-war protest. She urged believers who cannot come to the protest to support its participants with prayer. For participation in the protest, Kasyanenko was arrested for 10 days.


VALENTIN KHOROSHENIN, Catholic Church (St. Petersburg, Russia)

Valentin Khoroshenin

Valentin Khoroshenin (b. 2001), a Catholic believer from St. Petersburg, member of the Vesna (Spring) youth movement, a political prisoner.

After the beginning of the full-scale Russian invasion of Ukraine, Vesna became the coordinator of anti-war protests. In May 2022, the first criminal case was opened against some members of the movemnet under the article on the creation of an NGO infringing on the rights of citizens (Article 239 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation). In October, the movement was recognized as a foreign agent, and in December — an extremist organization.

On 5 June 2023, several criminal cases were opened against 21 people associated with the Vesna organization. According to the investigation, members of the movement gathered in an extremist community to impede the activities of Russian government agencies, abolish law enforcement agencies, cause damage to the country’s defence (Part 1 of Article 282.1 and Part 2 of Article 282.1 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation), encourage citizens to illegal actions (Part 2 of Article 239 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation) and mass riots (Part 1.1 of Article 212 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation), to disseminate deliberately false information about the Russian army (paragraphs ‘b’ and ‘d’ of Part 2 of Article 207.3) and days of military glory (Part 4 of Article 354.1 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation), as well as to publicly call for activities against the security of Russia (Part 3 of Article 280.4 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation).

Khoroshenin was detained on 6 June 2023 on charges of committing crimes under Part 1 of Art. 282.1, part 4 art. 354.1 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation. According to investigators, supporters of Vesna, including Khoroshenin, posted calls on the internet to take part in anti-war protests on 25-27 February 2022, thereby allegedly encouraging citizens to commit illegal actions. Since then, Khoroshenin has been in jail.

In September 2023, the ‘Support for Political Prisoners. Memorial’ human rights project recognized Khoroshenin as a political prisoner and his criminal prosecution for anti-war comments — as politically motivated and illegal.

In the survey of political prisoners by Novaya Gazeta, Khoroshenin declared:

“I am a Christian; the Gospel and Social Teaching of the Roman Catholic Church have greatly influenced my worldview. I am a family man who stands up for my family and friends, respects my parents and intends to start a family with my beloved bride. I am a citizen who loves his country and shares the concepts of Fatherland and Your Majesty. I am an educator, no matter how loudly it may sound; in St. Petersburg, I was actively involved in the popularization of scientific humanities knowledge, and I am still convinced that changes will come from changes in the outlook of citizens, and from nowhere else.

Letters to Khoroshenin can be sent by email or snail mail at the following address:
109382, Moscow, st. Verkhnie Polya, 57, FKU SIZO-7 Kapotnya, Valentin Alekseevich Khoroshenin, born in 2001.

The services F-Pismo and Zonatelecom can be used; and for paying with foreign cards — PrisonMail.


Russian Orthodox Church

Believer VLADIMIR ANANICH, Russian Orthodox Church (Moscow)

Vladimir Ananich

Vladimir Ananich, an Orthodox believer, pensioner; for many years – a publisher of Christian literature.

On 31 March 2022, he came to Red Square in Moscow with a single picket. He held a homemade placard: «Peave to Ukraine! Sanity, horror, shame, repentance – to Russia! Hell – to Putin!» Was detained.

On 12 May 2022, a hearing of a case under Art. 20.3.3 of the Code of Administrative Offenses of the Russian Federation (Public actions aimed at discrediting the use of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation to protect the interests of the Russian Federation and its citizens, and maintaining international peace and security) took place; Judge Semina toom part. In his speech, Ananich, in particular, compared the Russian invasion of Ukraine with the fratricidal sin of Cain:

“But now they are running a crash test — at full speed into a concrete wall. After all, we are closely related, many speak the same language, and it would seem that we share the same faith, the same denomination, and in part, even the same ecclesiastical jurisdiction. Unfortunately, Abel had Cain for a brother. Fortunately, Abel was prepared and, unexpectedly for Cain, did not die but gave a fitting response to his brother. The Russian Orthodox Church and the Russian media were forced to urgently redact the Bible. To the Lord’s question, “Where is your brother Abel?”, Cain now replies: “Firstly, I am Abel, and secondly, I will now show you where the attack was being prepared against me. And if I had not launched a preemptive strike, then Mariupol would be in Kursk now, and Bucha in Malakhovka. So my conscience is clear.”

He also explained why he thinks the Russian people need repentance:

“And how could they, on Holy Saturday, the purest and quietest day of the year, when Christ descends into hell and ‘Let all mortal flesh be silent, and stand with fear and trembling, and meditate nothing earthly within itself: For the King of kings and Lord of lords, Christ our God, comes forward to be sacrificed, and to be given for food to the faithful’, conduct a missile strike on Odesa that killed the three-month-old angel Kira Glodan, her mother Valeria, and grandmother Lyudmila, and a few hours later stand in the church with a candle at the Easter Vigil service? And on Victory Day, to bomb that same Hero City of Odesa?”

Ananich was fined 85,000 Russian rubles (about 1,235 Euros). His Facebook friends helped to raise the money to pay the fine.

Hegumen ARSENY (SOKOLOV), Russian Orthodox Church (Moscow)

Hegumen Arseny (Sokolov)

Hegumen Arseny (Sokolov), a well-known biblical scholar, and a representative of the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia to the Patriarch of Antioch and All the East, signed an open appeal of the priests of the Russian Orthodox Church against the war; his signature under the appeal was the first. On 28 March, he launched a Telegram channel where he wrote: “Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!” (Isaiah 5:20). Woe to those who call a fratricidal war a peacekeeping operation!” He also wrote that, in his opinion, «prayer ‘for the glory of Russia’ or any other country (and not for the glory of God) is simply idolatry.» On 29 March, he was forced to delete his earlier channel entries; he noted that “The Motherland is being driven into a camp. So far, this is ‘just’ a colony settlement. But it seems that a general regime will be introduced soon, followed by a strict regime, and so on. Who will we, the pastors of the Church, be in this camp? Prisoners or guards?» This message was also deleted; instead, a quote from the prophet Amos about the need for silence appeared and soon after the channel became unavailable.

On 27 May was dismissed from the post of the representative of the Moscow Patriarch to the Patriarch of Antioch.

Сommenting on the request of the church authorities to offer a special prayer for Vladimir Putin in honour of his birthday, Sokolov wrote on his Facebook page on 6 October 2022: “One should not pray for Tsar Herod.”

On 1 November 2022, Vakhtang Kipshidze, Deputy Head of the Synodal Department for Relations of the Church with Society and the Media, in an interview with the RTVI channel, accused the clergy who signed the appeal of the priests of the Russian Orthodox Church against the war of trying to “introduce into the Church territory the conflict that the Church has no relations with«. Kipshidze recalled that the European Parliament referred to the appeal in a special resolution on Russia and the Federal President of Germany Walter Steinmeier – at the general assembly of the WCC in Karlsruhe. He described the appeal as opposition activity, a manifestation of disloyalty to the state and assistance to unfriendly Western forces: «Magically, this began to be used by those political forces that, as we have all seen in recent months, do not wish any good to our country, our people

On 10 November 2022, the priest announced the release of his translation of the Book of the Prophet Micah with his own commentaries. This book is known for the anti-militarist statement: “They will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore” (Micah 4, 3). On 11 November 2022, it became known that Hegumen Arseny (Sokolov) was dismissed from the General Church Postgraduate and Doctoral School where used to be head of the Department of Biblical Studies.


Deacon DMITRY BAEV, Russian Orthodox Church (Kirov, Russia)

Dn. Dmitry Baev

Dmitry Baev, deacon of St John the Baptist parish in Kirov, a graduate of the Vyatka Theological School, left Russia immediately after the start of the war. He has been publishing anti-war articles and videos on his VKontakte social network page (currently deleted or blocked). Metropolitan of Vyatka and Sloboda Mark suspended him from ministry and referred his case to the church court on 11 March. In September, by decision of the Eparchial ecclesiastical court, Baev was «deposed from the priesthood.» On 23 March, a case was opened against the deacon under the newly introduced law on fakes and discrediting the Russian Armed Forces. He is accused of posting «deliberately false information containing materials on the use of the armed forces of the Russian Federation for protection of the interests of the Russian Federation and its citizens.» Baev’s apartment in Kirov was searched. The deacon was put on the federal wanted list. He also was added to the list of Rosfinmonitoring following the initiation of a criminal case against him for publicly «discrediting the Russian army.»


Rev. IOANN BURDIN, Russian Orthodox Church (Kostroma Oblast)

Rev. Ioann Burdin

The rector of the Resurrection of Christ church in the village of Karabanovo (Krasnoselsky District, Kostroma Oblast).

On 6 March 2022, Forgiveness Sunday, in a sermon he said that he was praying for peace on Ukrainian soil. About 10 people were present, one of whom reported to the police. Two hours later, the police arrived at the church. A protocol was drawn up against the priest for discrediting the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation. In addition to the sermon, he was also accused of publishing a statement condemning the “special military operation” on the territory of Ukraine on the parish website. The statement signed by Rev. Burdin and Rev. Georgy Edelstein said: “We Christians must not stand aside when a brother kills a brother, a Christian – a Christian. We cannot shyly cover our eyes and call black white, evil – good, say that Abel was probably wrong provoking his older brother.» Later, at the request of the Metropolitan of Kostroma and Nerekhta Ferapont, this message was deleted. On 7 March, the case was transferred to the court of the Krasnoselsky District of the Kostroma Oblast, however, judge Anna Artimovskaya refused to consider this case and sent it to the court of the Kostroma district where Rev. Burdin is registered. Initially, the judge of the Kostroma District Court, Aleksey Chudetsky, also refused to consider it and returned the protocol to the police for revision on 9 March. On 10 March, the same judge found Rev. Burdin guilty and fined him 35,000 rubles.

In April, the priest was also forced to leave the active ministry and the rectorship at the church of the Resurrection of Christ.

In April, the priest was also forced to leave the active ministry and the rectorship at the church of the Resurrection of Christ.

Burdin was going to move to Bulgaria and transfer to the jurisdiction of the Orthodox Church of Bulgaria. Consequently, on6 December 2022, one of the Bulgarian metropolitans, who was prepared to accept Burdin in his diocese, sent a letter to Metropolitan Ferapont (Kashin) of Kostroma and Nerekhta, who redirected the request to the Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church. On 19 March 2023, after the meeting of the Synod on 16 March 2023, he was temporarily banned from the ministry on the basis of Canon 55 of the Holy Apostles (“If any of the clergy insult the bishop”) due to the fact that in the materials published on his blog, allegedly «blasphemy against the Church» was found. The ban was temporary until the published articles have been studied. Soon after, Metropolitan Ferapont contacted Burdin inviting him to a meeting. There, he said that he would like to let the priest transfer to another Local Church, but it did not depend on him and hinted that the decision had been made by Patriarch Kirill; he also informed that he was going to study the blog posts and prepare a resume.

On 8 June 2023, the priest received from the office of the Kostroma diocese an invitation to the diocesan court scheduled for 16 June 2023, as well as materials that were supposed to be considered there. As follows from the materials of the ecclesiastical court, Burdin was accused of publishing in his Telegram channel «quite sharp statements regarding the current situation and activities of the Russian Orthodox Church and its hierarchy specifically, … these statements clearly discredit the activities of the highest church authorities (Patriarch and like-minded bishops) of the Russian Orthodox Church, thereby undermining the trust of believers (as of 4 June 2023, the channel had 2,295 subscribers) to the Patriarch and bishops; this harmed Church unity, which in turn is at odds with Church canons and cannot be compatible with priestly ministry.»

On 16 June 2023, in Burdin’s absence, a meeting of the diocesan court took place; its results were reported by the press office of the Kostroma Metropolis. The members of the court recognised «ecclesiological errors» in Burdin’s publications, such as: 1) the denial of the holiness and saving powers of the actual historical Local Church (the Russian Orthodox Church), as a result, the denial of unity with the Holy Catholic Church of Christ (Matt. 16:18); 2) rejection of the conciliar decision of the Church regarding the canonisation of saints and doubts about the sanctity of some saints (the Blessed Matrona of Moscow, the St Noble Prince Dmitry Donskoy, etc.) who are universally venerated; 3) activities sowing distrust of the Church among believers, and as a result, aimed at tearing faithful away from the Church of Christ.

Based on this, the priest was charged with violation of the priestly oath (Apostolic Canon 25). The court advised Metropolitan Ferapont (Kashin) of Kostroma and Nerekhta, the administrator of the Kostroma diocese, to ban Rev. Ioann Burdin from ministry until his public repentance.


ANNA CHAGINA, Russian Orthodox Church (Tomsk, Russia)

Anna Chagina

Musician Anna Chagina (born November 29, 1979).

She spoke out against the war in Ukraine on her social networks. On 6 March 2022 she participated in an anti-war demonstration at Novo-Sobornaya Square with a banner «Blessed are the peacemakers  (Matthew 5:9)» and was detained. On 12 March 2022 she was fined 45,000 Russian roubles by Tomsk’s Soviet District Court for “discrediting” the army under the new Administrative Code Article 20.3.3 («Public actions aimed at discrediting the use of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation»). Last September, her VK page was blocked at the Prosecutor General’s request. On 30 November 2022, early in the morning, the security forces came to Chagina with a search as part of a criminal case under article 280.3 of the Criminal Code on repeated throughout the year discrediting the Russian army. The case is based on her VK posts and comments published from 4 May to 12 June 2022. This posts included information on anti-war Appeal of the Russian Orthodox clergy, online discussion on the war from a Christian point of view by Lutheran bishop Pavel Levushkan and religious philosopher Nikolai Karpitsky, as well as information on persecutions against priest of ROCOR (A) Ioann Kurmoyarov, as Forum18 reports.

After the search, Chagina was detained for 48 hours in a temporary detention facility.

On 1 December 2022, TV2 reported that the court imposed a preventive measure on Chagina – a ban on certain actions. She was prohibited from leaving the house between 10 pm and 6 am, receiving and sending correspondence, as well as using the internet and attending mass events. She also had to sign a non-disclosure agreement.

On 2 March 2023 it became known, that against Chagina in the Soviet Court of the city of Tomsk on 15 March 2023, a hearing will be held under Article 280.3 of the Criminal Code, the case will be considered by Judge Roman Zaynulin. Chagina faces up to 3 years in prison or a fine of up to 300,000 Russian rubles.

The Sovetskii District Court of the city of Tomsk considered the case in July 2023.

Anna Chagina once again did not admit her guilt, and asked for an acquittal:

I stand by my point of view that any military action is unacceptable. I call war a war. What is taking place now in Ukraine also concerns our country, and I consider it a political, social and economic catastrophe. For me, as a person who loves life, loves their neighbours, and loves our planet – all this is a painful experience. For me personally, this is a huge pain. My heartache was the main motive for what I did. Based on my personal convictions, I tried to reflect on what was happening, including through the text of another person. All the accusations are based on the text of another person, not my personal views. And I emphasize once again that my point of view does not always coincide with the point of view of Nikolai Karpitsky. I believe that the expert examination of his texts has nothing to do with me. Evidence of his negative attitude towards the actions of the Russian army also has nothing to do with me. Personally, I have never allowed any boorish, rude and derogatory words towards any military. Despite the fact that I am a staunch pacifist. […] I do not think that the expression of my position is destabilizing for society, despite the testimony of two witnesses. I do not admit my guilt and ask to acquit me.


On 7 August 2023 a trial took place, judge Roman Zainulin fined Anna Chagina 100 thousand rubles, and also banned her from posting publications on the Internet for two years. According to her lawyer, this is the minimum punishment under the imputed article.

She attempted to challenge this decision, but the Tomsk Regional Court confirmed the earlier verdict.


Rev. ALEKSANDER DĄBROWSKI, Russian Orthodox Church (Bryansk oblast, Russia)

Rev. Aleksander Dąbrowski

Earlier: rector of St Nicholas Church in the village of Muzhinovo (Kletnyansky district, Bryansk oblast), cleric of the diocese of Klintsy and Trubchevsk of the Bryansk Metropolis of the Russian Orthodox Church (Moscow Patriarchate); at the moment: belongs to clergy of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine.

The priest comes from Odessa, and his whole family lives in Ukraine. He took the beginning of the Russian invasion of the country of his origin very painfully. Many of his relatives suffered as a result of the war. He delivered anti-war sermons and spoke out on social media and in private conversations against the war and its justifications. Many of these conversations were recorded by the parish head, Lyudmila Pustovit.

Initially, the secretary of the diocesan administration, Archpriest Vasily Volikov, called the priest to influence him. On 28 October 2022, Rev. Dombrovsky was summoned to the diocesan administration office, where Bishop Vladimir (Novikov) spoke to him, forced the priest to write an explanatory note and threatened to defrock him.

A few days later, Rev. Dąbrowski’s wooden church burned down in a power surge accident. This triggered his ban from the ministry and dismissal. In addition to accusations of ‘negligence’, the decree mentioned his anti-war position and statements against the Russian army and President Putin.

On 9 January 2023, Rev. Dąbrowski was summoned to the criminal department of the police of the village Kletnya. He was informed about the opening of an investigation n the Bryansk branch of the FSB following a report made by the parish head, Lyudmila Pustovit. On this occasion, the investigator took a written explanation and released the priest. Fearing further persecution, he left Russia.

Interview (In Russian): Priest Aleksander Dąbrowski: «The war was a knife for each of us!»

On 22 February 2023, Aleksander Dąbrowski wrote in his Facebook, that he had become aware that the Klintsy diocese of the Bryansk Metropolis of the Russian Orthodox Church (MP) had launched the process of defrocking him. As follows from the information posted by the priest on his personal Facebook page, he was accepted into the clergy of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine.


Believer ELIZAVETA EMELYANOVA, Russian Orthodox Church (Moscow)

Elizaveta Emelyanova

Elizaveta Emelyanova (b. 2006), Orthodox believer of the Alexander Nevsky parish in Moscow

After the beginning of the full-scale Russian invasion of Ukraine, 16-year-old Emelyanova took part in an anti-war rally in Moscow on 6 March 2022. She was detained for participating in an illegal mass event (Article 20.2 of the Code of Administrative Offences of the Russian Federation). Due to being a minor, her case was considered by the Commission on Juvenile Affairs of the Akademicheskiy district of Moscow.

On 28 April 2022, the Commission chaired by D.L. Sheremet imposed an administrative penalty in the form of a warning to Elizaveta Emelyanova’s mother, Nadezhda Belyakova, church history researcher, for allegedly “improperly fulfilling her parental responsibilities”.

On 4 May 2022, the same Commission decided to terminate proceedings in the case of an administrative offence in relation to Elizaveta Emelyanova herself. The Head of the Department of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Russia for the Khvorino district of Moscow, O.Y. Dvornikov, appealed this decision to the Gagarinsky District Court of Moscow.

The Emelyanova family was forced to leave Russia.


Deacon ARKADIY FOMIN, Russian Orthodox Church (Syktyvkar, Komi Republic, Russia)

Dn Arkadiy Fomin

Former deacon of St Stephen’s Cathedral in Syktyvkar, Syktyvkar diocese of the Russian Orthodox Church.

In early March 2022, he signed the appeal of the clergy of the Russian Orthodox Church for reconciliation and ending the war (his signature is number 235). He spoke out against the war in his social media and at public events, and received threats from the odious Archbishop of Syktyvkar and Komi-Zyryansk Pitirim (Volochkov) known for his pro-war stance and support for Putin.

On 19 November 2022, the Secretariat of the Syktyvkar diocese published the following statement regarding deacon Arkady on the website of the eparchy: “The Secretariat of the Syktyvkar dioces reminds that the public statements of deacon Arkadiy Fomin, an out-of-staff deacon of the Syktyvkar diocese, may contain private opinions that do not reflect the official position of the Syktyvkar diocese of the Russian Orthodox Church (Moscow Patriarchate).»

The story of deacon Arkadiy Fomin was told by the editors of RFI/RL Sever.Realii radio station, however, the reporting did not make clear what kind of disciplinary sanction was imposed on him — a dismissal from the diocese staff or a suspension of his priestly ministry. On the website of the Syktyvkar diocese, deacon Arkadiy Fomin is referred to as “out of staff”; the decree on his suspension, if any, was not published.


Rev. ILIYA GAVRYSHKIV, Russian Orthodox Church (Tver oblast)

Rev. Iliya Gavryshkiv

Rev. Iliya Gavryshkiv (b. 1994), rector of the Prophet Elijah parish in Pogoreloye village, Tver oblast, Rzhev eparchy of the Russian Orthodox Church.

In March 2022, he signed the Russian Orthodox Church clergy’s anti-war appeal. Apart from him, the appeal was signed by another 292 more clergy, Gavryshkiv’s signature is number 47.

The priest refused to read the Prayer for Holy Rus’ calling for the victory of the Russian army over Ukraine. Bishop Adrian (Ulyanov) of Rzhev and Toropets reprimanded him publicly from the pulpit of the church where the priest ministers. One of the parishioners forwarded the video of the event to the Obyektiv Telegram channel.

The bishop, in particular, said that the priest was given a choice: either he would begin to read the prescribed prayer, or he would initially be subject to a temporary ban from ministry, and in the event of ‘absence of repentance’ — to defrocking. “When we explained it to this guy, he immediately understood it,” said the bishop.

The priest was called to the pulpit of the church; there, he “repented” before the bishop and parishioners admitting his guilt because “out of his foolishness and pride, [he] read prayers for peace again, rather than what [he] was supposed to do.”


VITALY GORIACHIKH, Russian Orthodox Church (Chita, Russia)

Vitaly Goriachikh

Vitaly Goryachikh, an activist and Orthodox believer from Chita, went out on a solo picket on 28 July 2022, with a banner “I will not fear evil” (Ps 22:4). He explained in an interview with Sibir.Realii that the choice of this phrase related to his faith: «I am a believer, I did not select this quote by chance. It is from a psalm of David. As a child, I read the Bible; at a mature age, I reread the Old Testament … Using this phrase I demonstrate that I am not afraid and urge others not to be afraid either.» The two-hour picket ended with the police detaining Goryachikh. He was accused of «discrediting» the Russian army. A trial took place on 18 August 2022. The believer was fined 30,000 Russian rubles. rubles. According to the judge, the poster constituted an offence of discrediting the Russian army: “If there is a letter Z, then we are talking about the Russian army. This is a symbol in support of the Russian Armed Forces.” On 12 September, an appeal was filed against the court’s decision to the Trans-Baikal regional court, but it was not satisfied.


Archimandrite KIRILL GOVORUN, Russian Orthodox Church (Moscow, Russia)

Archimandrite Kirill Govorun

Archimandrite Kirill Govorun, a former cleric of the Moscow Eparchy of the Russian Orthodox Church, a theologian of Ukrainian origin, a citizen of Ukraine, and a theological consultant to Patriarch Kirill. Since the beginning of Russian aggression against Ukraine in 2014, he has not been on Russian territory, although he continued to belong to the Russian Orthodox Church canonically.

Since the beginning of full-scale aggression in 2022, Govorun took a pro-Ukrainian position. He condemned the leadership of the Russian Orthodox Church and accused Patriarch Kirill of the ‘Russian world’ heresy.

On 25 September 2023, Govorun was expelled from the ministry by decree of Patriarch Kirill of Moscow. The reason for the ban was specified as concelebration “with the bishops and clergy of the Church of Constantinople the Eucharistic communion with which was interrupted by the decision of the Holy Synod due to a gross invasion of the canonical territory of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church.”

On 31 October 2023, the court of the Moscow eparchy decided to defrock Govorun. Patriarch Kirill of Moscow approved this decision by decree on 29 December 2023. The decree was officially published only on 17 January 2024.


ALEXANDER IVANOV, Russian Orthodox Church (Kaluga, Russia)

Alexander Ivanov

A programmer and creator of the Christian online encyclopedia Drevo. On 25 February, a banner ‘No to war!’ appeared on the Drevo website; it was hyperlinked to the editors’ statement signed by Ivanov which criticized Russian aggression against Ukraine and the silence of the Russian Orthodox Church hierarchy. An unknown woman sent a denunciation the Moscow Center for Combating Extremism and Terrorism with a request to ‘take action’. The woman complained that “a provocative anti-patriotic slogan was placed in the header of the website”; after clicking on it “you get to an even more outrageous article”. She characterised the text of the statement as «deceitful, insulting towards the Church representatives«. The denunciation was sent to Kaluga, and Ivanov was summoned to give explanations. A protocol was drawn up against him under article 20.3.3 (discrediting the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation) of the Code of Administrative Offenses of the Russian Federation. The court fined Ivanov 45,000 Russian rubles.


MAKSIM KALININ, Russian Orthodox Church (Moscow, Russia)

Maksim Kalinin

Theologian, linguist, and researcher of the Mesopotamian Christian mystical tradition, life and works of East Syrian mystics. He spoke out against the war with Ukraine in his social networks; called for peace and peacemaking, and criticized church-state relations and support for authoritarian and dictatorial regimes – in his lectures and public speeches. On 16 December 2022, he was dismissed from the All-Church Postgraduate and Doctoral Studies of the Russian Orthodox Church without explanation.


PAVEL KICHULA, Russian Orthodox Church (Vyazma, Russia)

Pavel Kichula

Pavel Kichula, born in 1988, an artist, a graduate of Smolensk State University and the Smolensk Theological Seminary, a former head of the Youth Missionary Department of the Vyazma Eparchy of the Smolensk Metropolis of the Russian Orthodox Church. On 20 March 2022 Bishop Sergiy of Vyazma and Gagarin appointed him a lector.

Kichula condemned the Russian invasion of Ukraine on his social media. On 7 April 2023, the Vyazma District Court found him guilty of violating part 1 of art. 20.3.3 of the Code of Administrative Offenses (Public actions aimed at discrediting the use of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation) and fined him 40,000 rubles.

As the Readovka news website reported, Kichula was accused of “gaining influential authority in a particular religious group” and “publicly” disagreeing with the actions of the Russian military in Ukraine calling them criminals and “imposing this opinion on all members of the group.”


VITALY KOLTSOV, Russian Orthodox Church (Moscow, Russia)

Vitaly Koltsov

Vitaly Koltsov, 47 years old, a father of many children, a poet, a developer of intellectual games, an Orthodox believer, a graduate of the Faculty of Philosophy of the Russian State University for Humanities.

On 2 May 2022, Koltsov came to the Metropol Hotel at Revolyutsii Square in Moscow wearing a suit and tie, and with a briefcase containing a box of matches and a telephone. He threw two bottles of gasoline into Rosgvardiya buses in protest against the ban on peaceful mass demonstrations which has been tightened since the start of the war.

No one was hurt in the fire of a car for transporting detainees. Koltsov was placed in a pre-trial detention center and charged with an attempt on the lives of twelve police officers, which could lead to life imprisonment.

From the very beginning of his detention, Koltsov claimed that he had no intention of killing anyone. His wife Irina told the Orthodox media Pravmir: “He is a believer, therefore I knew that he could not harm people. He believed that murder is unacceptable. Christians understand this: because life is given by God, no one has the right to take it.»

The hearing of the case against Koltsov, who is accused of assault on the life of law enforcement officers (Article 317 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation) and property damage (Article 167 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation), is being held in the Moscow City Court. At the proceeding on 6 June 2023, the jury found Koltsov not guilty of attempted murder of twelve police officers, however they found him guilty of property damage.

On June 2023, Koltsov was condemned for 6 years imprisonment term.


Priest VLADIMIR KOROLEV, Russian Orthodox Church (Tula, Russia)

Very Rev. Vladimir Korolev

Very Rev. Vladimir Korolev, former rector of the Kazan Church in Tula (Tula eparchy of the Russian Orthodox Church). He oversaw the construction of the church where he ministered for 16 years.
 
Rev. Korolev signed the appeal of the priests of the Russian Orthodox Church against the war; his signature is number 41.
 
He refused to collect funds for “special military operation”, and was dismissed from active ministry.


Rev. PETER KOROTAEV, Russian Orthodox Church (Ivanovskoye village, Noginsk district, Moscow oblast)

Rev. Peter Korotaev

Rev. Peter Korotaev, former cleric of the Church of St John the Baptist in Ivanovskoye village, Noginsk district (Balashikha eparchy of the Moscow Metropolis of the Russian Orthodox Church).

Priest Korotaev signed the appeal of the priests of the Russian Orthodox Church against the war; his signature is number 105.

After refusing to withdraw his signature at the request of the dean, he was dismissed from active ministry.


Rev. IOANN KOVAL, Russian Orthodox Church (Moscow)

Rev. Ioann Koval

Cleric of the Andrew the First-Called church in Lyublino, Moscow.

He prayed for peace replacing the word ‘victory’ with the word ‘peace’ in the For Holy Rus prayer: Instead of «Arise, O God, to help Thy people, and give us victory by Thy power» he was saying: «Arise, O God, to help Thy people, and give us peace by Thy power.» The parishioners of his church who did not like it, reported the priest. The hierarchy regarded his actions as a manifestation of «unruliness». On 2 February, a decree on the dismissal of Rev. Koval from priestly ministry signed by Patriarch Kirill was published on the Moscow diocese website.

On 11 May 2023, a session of the Moscow Diocesan Court was held, at which Rev. Ioann Koval was defrocked. The desicion must be approved by Patriarch Kirill in order to come into force. The canonical crimes imputed to the priest remain unknown.


Priest KIRILL KRAINYUK, Russian Orthodox Church (Leningrad oblast, Russia)

Rev. Kirill Krainyuk

Rev. Kirill Krainyuk (b. 1974), former cleric of the Church of Sts Constantine and Helena Equal to the Apostles in Vsevolozhsk, Vyborg eparchy.

He signed the appeal of the priests of the Russian Orthodox Church against the war; his signature is number 223.

After signing the appeal, he was forced to resign. On 12 July 12 2022, he was dismissed from active ministry.


Believer SERGEY KRIVONOS, Russian Orthodox Church (Voronezh, Russia)

Sergey Krivonos

Sergey Krivonos is working at a church shop in one of the shopping centres in Voronezh, Russia.

In June 2023, local resident Marina Sokolova reported him for allegedly “campaigning against the SVO, saying that our army should not kill there and that our soldiers should quickly leave the territory of Ukraine.” Another local resident, Raisa Grigorieva, reported that Krivonos wished that “all your soldiers would be killed as soon as possible.” Police Lieutenant Ivanenko S.S. drew a protocol up against Krivonos based on Part 1 of Article 20.3.3 of the Code of Administrative Offences of the Russian Federation (Discrediting the Russian army). Krivonos rejected this as slander.

On 14 July 2023, the Comintern Court of Voronezh (Judge V.V. Borodinov) decided that Krivonos indeed ‘discredited’ the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation. According to Art. 20.3.3 of the Code of Administrative Offences of the Russian Federation, he was fined 30,000 Russian rubles.

Krivonos attempted to challenge the court ruling, but the Voronezh Regional Court upheld the decision.


Rev. GLEB KRIVOSHEIN, Russian Orthodox Church (Kazan, Republic of Tatarstan, Russia)

Rev. Gleb Krivoshein

Rev. Gleb Krivoshein, a priest of the Righteous Yaroslavl Wonderworkers parish in Kazan, signed the clergy of the Russian Orthodox Church’s anti-war appeal in March 2022. Apart of him, the appeal was signed by other 292 other clerics; Krivoshein’s signature was number 51.

One of the employees of the FSB in Tatarstan considered this an offence. In September 2022, the Vakhitovsky district court of Kazan found Rev. Krivoshein guilty of “discrediting” the army (part 1 of art. 20.3.3 of the Code of Administrative Offenses of the Russian Federation) and imposed a 15,000 Russian rubles fine – below the threshold (the minimum penalty under this article is 30,000 Russian rubles) — taking into account that Rev. Krivosheev has two young children as his dependents. The court judgement became known only in December when the Idel.Realii found the corresponding decision in the court’s filing.

The published court decision states that Krivoshein “signed a public petition ‘On the cessation of the fratricidal war on the territory of Ukraine’ which was posted on the internet; in that way, he carried out public actions aimed at discrediting the use of the Russian Federation Armed Forces for protection of the interests of the Russian Federation and its citizens, maintaining international peace and security, which was expressed in a public call to prevent the use of the RF Armed Forces for those purposes.»


Archdeacon ANDREY KURAEV, Russian Orthodox Church (Moscow)

Pdn. Andrei Kuraev

Suspended archdeacon, famous writer and missionary, published in his social networks anti-war texts. On 21 March, his LiveJournal blog was blocked in Russia. On 23 August, Nikulino court of Moscow fined him for 30,000 rubles for a post in LiveJournal from 18 April, where archdeacon reflected on Russian civil war 1918-1923 and in some passages touched upon contemporary situation. The court considered it an offence under part 1 art. 20.3.3 of the Code of Administrative Offences (discrediting the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation). The post however was deleted before trial. Kuraev deleted all his blog posts from 23 February to 1 August. The Archdeacon announced that he will pay the fine. 


Believer EVGENIYA MAYBORODA, Russian Orthodox Church (Shakhty, Rostov oblast)

Evgeniya Mayboroda

Evgeniya Mayboroda, b. 1952, a pensioner; a believer of the Russian Orthodox Church, town of Shakhty, Rostov oblast.

She spoke out against the war in Ukraine on the VK social network, also referring to a Christian point of view. Mayboroda’s VK page consisted of Orthodox postcards and images with anti-war appeals and criticism of the Russian authorities. In 2022, she posted on social media images reflecting on how Jesus Christ might relate to current events.

On 31 December 2022, the fact of Mayboroda’s prosecution under Art. 20.3.3 of the Code of Administrative Offenses of the Russian Federation (Public actions aimed at discrediting the use of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation) became known. She was fined 40,000 rubles.

On 2 April 2023, the fact of Mayboroda’s prosecution under Article 20.29 of the Code of Administrative Offenses of the Russian Federation (Distribution of extremist materials) was reported by the Kavkazkii Uzel. Mayboroda served three days of arrest and was included in the Rosfinmonitoring register of terrorists and extremists. On 3 April 2023, a criminal case was opened against Mayboroda under Part 2 of Art. 207.3 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation (Dissemination of knowingly false information about the use of the armed forces of Russia) and under Part 2 of Article 280 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation (Public calls for extremism).

On 28 January 2024, the Shakhty City Court Mayboroda sentenced Mayboroda to five and a half years in a general regime colony for allegedly distributing fake news about the Russian army and calls for extremism (Part 2 of Article 207.3 and Part 2 of Article 280 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation). This was reported by the Setevyie Svobody.


Rev. MAKSIM NAGIBIN, Russian Orthodox Church (Krasnodar Krai)

Rev. Maksim Nagibin

Rector of the Archangel Michael church (Metropolis of the Kuban, Eparchy of Armavir) in the village of Nadezhnaya, Otradnensky District, Krasnodar Krai. 

In the Easter 2022 sermon, he said: “I may become an outcast in the Russian Federation and some present here may disagree with my words, but this is my conviction, it will remain with me. I do not impose this opinion on anyone, and God sees that until now I have not spoken these words from the pulpit. I consider the war against Ukraine a crime and a great shame that has made our country an outcast on the world stage, which they do not want to reckon with and do not trust the words of our rulers.” He posted a video of this sermon on the Odnoklassniki social network. At the end of August, a denunciation was written against him and a protocol was drawn up. The Otradnensky district court began to consider an administrative case against the priest but had to return it to the Ministry of Internal Affairs office citing the fact that the report did not contain «who posted this video and on which page», the Kavkaz.Realii reported.

On 25 October 2022, the same website reported that since the term for bringing to justice had expired in July, the Otradnensky district court had dismissed the case against Rev. Nagibin. During the consideration of the protocol, the court enquired whether the priest served in the army, whether he had been abroad and whether he had relatives in Ukraine.

15 November 2022 ecclesiastical court of Armavir diocese decided to defrock Rev. Maksim Nagibin.


IGOR ORLOVSKY, Russian Orthodox Church (Krasnoyarsk)

Igor Orlovsky

Igor Orlovsky – an Orthodox believer from Krasnoyarsk, publicist, speleologist, and worker. Studied at the Moscow Theological Seminary.

Since the beginning of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, he started writing indignant anti-war comments on the VK social network.

Several weeks later during the monitoring of social networks, police officers discovered two comments. One of them, as follows from the materials of the criminal case, was qualified as “a call for the destruction of Russian military personnel taking part in a special military operation on the territory of Ukraine”. The second – as “a call for the physical destruction of the current president to stop his state and political activities”. Orlovsky received a call from the prosecutor’s office and was informed of two administrative cases against him under Article 20.3.3 of the Code of Administrative Offenses (Discrediting the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation) for these comments. Two months later, in the summer of 2023, the court fined him 30,000 rubles for each comment. Orlovsky admitted to the authorship of the comments but categorically refused to admit guilt.

On 10 January 2023, a task force raided Orlovsky’s apartment; the group consisted of police and FSB officers accompanied by an investigator from the Second department for the investigation of especially important cases of the Main Investigative Directorate of the Investigative Committee, and five masked soldiers. Only a copy of the Constitution, the latest issue of Rossiyskaya Gazeta newspaper and a note with a prayer for Ukraine and Russia were confiscated. Orlovsky was charged with public calls for extremism and terrorism (Part 2 of Article 205.2 and Part. 2 Article 280 of the Criminal Code) based on the same two comments on VK. The case against Orlovsky was largely built on the linguistic assessment of the Siberian Federal University’s lecturers Natalia Zhbankova and Olga Felde.

Orlovsky was under recognizance not to leave until March 2023. Within one week of March 2023, five court hearings regarding criminal cases related to the two comments on VK with alleged calls for extremism and terrorism were held. The state prosecution requested for Orlovsky six and a half years of imprisonment due to the social danger of the ‘criminal acts’ he committed. The First District Military Court sentenced Orlovsky to three years in prison with a ban on publishing on the internet for two years after release. Orlovsky was taken into custody in the courtroom and placed in a pre-trial detention center in Krasnoyarsk. Rosfinmonitoring added the believer to the list of terrorists and extremists.

During the review of the materials of the criminal case, it became known that Orlovsky’s posts on social media formed the basis of another criminal case about the “rehabilitation of Nazism” (Part 2 of Article 354.1 of the Criminal Code). In a comment on the VK social network, Orlovsky compared the policies of Hitler and Stalin before the outbreak of World War II. He referred to the works of historical publicists Solonin, Nikonov and Suvorov (Rezun); he called both tyrants aggressors. Based on this comment, an assessment was carried out by Alla Kipchatova, Anna Tolmacheva and Mikhail Shibaev of the Krasnoyarsk Pedagogical University. They concluded that the Soviet government never acted as an aggressor.

The charges against Orlovsky were soon supplemented by an article about “fakes” regarding the Russian Armed Forces (Part 2 of Article 207.3 of the Criminal Code). The charge was concerned with Orlovsky’s comments about the missile attacks on Mariupol: “Why did the Russian occupiers attack Ukraine? Why was Mariupol wiped off the face of the earth? Why do troops kill civilians? Why are they torturing civilians?”He cited the report of the then Ukrainian Ombudsman Lyudmila Denisova about the rape of women and minors in Bucha.

Currently, Orlovsky is held in a pre-trial detention centre while Krasnoyarsk Regional Court is considering the ‘rehabilitation of Nazism’ and ‘fakes’ cases.

In May 2023, the Support for Political Prisoners. Memorial human rights project recognized Orlovsky as a political prisoner and his criminal prosecution for anti-war comments – as politically motivated and illegal.


Rev. NIKOLAI PLATONOV, Russian Orthodox Church (Chelyabinsk, Russia)

Rev. Nikolai Platonov

The former rector of two churches in the Sosnovsky district of the Chelyabinsk oblast: St Nicholas the Wonderworker in the village of Tominsky (prayer room) and the Blessed Matrona of Moscow in the village Voznesenka (prayer room), — is not in active ministry.

Rev. Platonov signed the appeal of the clergy of the Russian Orthodox Church, calling for reconciliation and an end to the war (his signature is number 292). From the very beginning of the war, he recorded videos condemning the war unleashed by Russia and the complicity of the Church in ideological propaganda. He left the active ministry; he explained to the Ahilla project that he could not reconcile his ministry with the unfolding events. In October 2022, Rev. Platonov harshly responded to Patriarch Kirill’s statement that Putin was allegedly at war with the Antichrist.

Fearing persecution, Rev. Platonov was forced to leave Russia and is currently in Montenegro. During first month of his stay he was supported by the Foundation Pristanište.

The story of Rev. Platonov and the conversation with him were published in Novaya Gazeta.


VASILY RAZUMOV, Russian Orthodox Church (Yaroslavl, Russia)

Vasily Razumov

Vasily Razumov, a linguist, lecturer of literature, in the recent past — a teacher of literature at the Ignaty Brianchaninov Orthodox Gymnasium; he starred in Maria Sandler’s film The Unholy Holy about the Orthodox Church in the modern world.

Razumov wrote anti-war posts on social media. One of those posts from 17 March 2023 was saved as a screenshot by one of the parents of the gymnasium students and passed to the principal. The school staff handed over the contacts of the teacher to the police. According to human rights activists, Razumov was fined 30,000 Russian rubles by the Kirov District Court in Yaroslavl under the article on discrediting the army; according to other sources, the fine was 130,000 Russian rubles.

Razumov was also fired from the gymnasium. The dismissal was caused not only by his social media posts, but also conflicts between the teacher and parents who objected Razumov’s imaginative teaching style and appearance.


Priest SERGIY RYBAKOV, Russian Orthodox Church (Samara, Russia)

Very Rev. Sergiy Rybakov

Very Rev. Sergiy Rybakov, former rector of the Church of the Holy Martyr Tatiana at Samara University (Samara eparchy of the Russian Orthodox Church).

Since the beginning of the war, he spoke out against it making statements on his social media. This caused a negative reaction from the university and eparchy administration.

In April 2022, a conflict with the eparchy began in the form of phone calls and accusations. In March 2023, Metropolitan Sergiy of Samara and Novokuybyshevsk told the priest that the FSB was keeping him in the focus of their attention. After this, the priest, his family and some parishioners received threats. His VK page was blocked, and the university began removal of the church from its structure; following that, Rev. Rybakov had to leave the active ministry.

15 September 2023 archpriest Sergiy Rybakov was suspended from ministry.


Deacon SERGEY SHCHERBYUK, Russian Orthodox Church (Samara Oblast, Russia)

Dn. Sergey Shcherbyuk

Deacon of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin parish in the Samara region. The Baza Telegram channel reported that in early April, the deacon was fined 30,000 rubles under the article on discrediting the Russian army in critical statements to parishioners and other ministers about Russia’s war against Ukraine. Shcherbyuk did not know for which specific incidents he was subjected to administrative punishment. It is likely that the parishioners themselves denounced the deacon. He recalled two cases which migh have attracted the attention of the police. One of them was a conversation with a parishioner on the way from church, in which he said that “everything can be solved without fighting«. In another incident, Shcheryuk asked the person editing the parish page in the VK social network to amend the call for «prayer for the soldiers fighting with Nazis and Banderites [- a Russian propaganda name for Ukrainians]» leaving only the words about praying. The page editor did not like the request and insisted that parishioners themselves wanted the call to be published.


GRIGORY SHEYANOV (Moscow, Russia)

Grugory Sheyanov

On 21 September 2022, the day of the announcement of mobilization in Russia, an Orthodox publicist and paediatrician, Grigory Sheyanov, performed a one-person picket in Moscow. He stood with a piece of paper with a quote from the appeal of Metropolitan Philip of Moscow to the tyrant Ivan the Terrible: «… and behind the altar, innocent Christian blood is shed.» He was detained and taken to the Kitay-Gorod police department, where a protocol was drawn up under part 1 of art. 20.3.3 (discrediting the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation). The trial is announced for 30 September. The trial was scheduled for 30 September. On his Facebook, Sheyanov described the proceedings. He was given the maximum fine under part 1 of art. 20.3.3, 50 basic units.


MIKHAIL SIMONOV, Russian Orthodox Church (Moscow, Russia)

Mikhail Simonov

The story of Rev. Platonov and the conversation with him were published in Novaya Gazeta.

Mikhail Yurievich Simonov, a pensioner from Moscow, born in 1960. Until recently he lived in Belarus and managed a restaurant car on long-distance trains.

On 19 and 20 March 2022, he made the following comments on the VK social network: “While killing children and women, we are singing songs on Channel One. We, Russia, have become godless. Forgive us, Lord!” and “Russian pilots are bombing children.” He was reported by two witnesses, who contacted the Ministry of Internal Affairs hotline.

Despite not hearing well, struggling with speech and suffering from various diseases, Simonov was taken into custody on 10 November 2022 on charges under part 2D of Art. 207.3 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation (Dissemination of deliberately false information about the armed forces of the Russian Federation motivated by hatred).

On 21 March 2023, during a hearing in the Timiryazevsky District Court of Moscow, Simonov stated that he was motivated to post the comments by “his Christian attitude to all living things.” Russian human rights organization Memorial recognized Simonov as a political prisoner.

Address for correspondence:

601120, Vladimir oblast, Petushinsky rayon, ul. Franza Schtolwerka, d. 6, FKU IK-2 UFSIN Russian for Vladimir oblast,
Simonov Mikhail Yurievich, born 1960.


Rev. SERGEY TITKOV, Russian Orthodox Church (Ryazan, Russia)

Rev. Sergey Titkov

At the end of March 2022, Rev. Sergey Titkov, rector of the Protection of the Holy Veil parish in Ryazan, requested to be relieved of his post for health reasons after repeated warnings from the Ryazan diocese. 

Its representatives demanded explanations why Titkov regularly reposted from the Akhilla website, which “publicises hatred for the Russian Orthodox Church” and criticizes the war. The priest was also condemned for refusing to read the Prayer for the Restoration of the Peace in his church. On 30 March, the eparchy published a decree dismissing Rev. Titkov from ministry.


ANDREY TSAPKALENKO, Russian Orthodox Church (Khabarovsk, Russia)

Andrey Tsapkalenko

Employee of the Transfiguration Cathedral in Khabarovsk, 61 years old.

On 6 March 2022, Tsapkalenko was with the protesters who opposed the war and supported Sergei Furgal in the square of his city. Tsepkalenko told the participants that he worked in the cathedral, but he called the behaviour of the leadership of the church and Russia anti-Christian. He quoted the Gospel words, “you will know them by their fruits”.

For this speech, a criminal case was opened against him under the article on insulting the feelings of believers (part 1 of article 148 of the Criminal Code) in June 2022. On 28 December 2022, the case was dismissed due to the lack of evidence of the committed crime.


Archpriest ALEXEY UMINSKY, Russian Orthodox Church (Moscow)

Archpriest Alexey Uminsky

Archpriest Alexey Uminsky (b. 1960), from 1993 to early 2024 — rector of the Life-Giving Trinity church in Khokhly, Moscow, Russia; a Christian publicist.

Very Rev. Uminsky refused to read the Prayer for Holy Rus’ for the ‘victory’ of the Russian army over Ukraine. He spoke in the media with an anti-war position. For example, on 16 November 2023, in an interview with Alexey Venediktov’s Living Nail channel, he criticised the use of military rhetoric by clergy, including during the liturgy. He advised parishioners to look for a liturgical space with little of or even completely without such rhetoric. The text version of the interview was published on the Echo website.

On 3 January 2024, Patriarch Kirill of Moscow, who is the ruling bishop of the Moscow eparchy, removed Uminsky from the rectorship of the parish and banned him from active ministry until the consideration of his case by the Disciplinary Commission of the Eparchial Council of Moscow. Archpriest Andrei Tkachev was appointed rector of the Life-Giving Trinity church. Tkachev endorsed the Russian invasion of Ukraine. The Uminsky’s removal became known on 5 January 2024 from his parishioners. The decree was published only on 10 January 2024.

On 6 January 2024, Mikhail Tyurenkov, a Tsargrad TV columnist, discussed the possibility of an ecclesiastical trial leading to defrocking Uminsky: “This cleric has been engaged in opposition political activities not just for years, but for decades, although not directly. However, this made his activities even more dangerous. He established an entire subculture around himself. It can roughly be defined as ‘ortoliberals’, that is, political liberals hiding in the shadows of Orthodoxy”.

Representatives of the Orthodox community, mainly laity of the Russian Orthodox Church, addressed Patriarch Kirill with an open letter calling on him to reconsider the decision to remove Uminsky. On 9-11 January 2024, the letter attracted more than 10,000 signatures.

On 11, 12 and 13 January 2024, three sessions of the Moscow ecclesiastical court were held to consider the case of Archpriest Uminsky. All three sessions took place in the absence of the accused. The court decided to defrock the priest for allegedly “violating the priestly Oath (oathbreaking)” for “refusal to abide the Patriarchal blessing to read the Prayer for Holy Rus’ during the Divine Liturgy.” The judges referred to the Cannon 25 of the Holy Apostles.

The decision came into force on 8 February 2024, following the approval of Patriarch Kirill of Moscow, who issued a decree defrocking Archpriest Alexey Uminsky.


Archpriest ALEXANDER VOSTRODYMOV, Russian Orthodox Church (Dimitrov, Moscow oblast)

Rev. Alexander Vostrodymov

Rev. Alexander Nikolaevich Vostrodymov (b. 1981), a priest of the Trinity Church in Dimitrov, Moscow oblast, and a member of the Eparchial Department for Prison Ministry of the Sergiev Posad Eparchy of the Metropolis of Moscow of the Russian Orthodox Church.

Rev. Vostrodymov signed the open letter of the priests of the Russian Orthodox Church against the war; his signature is no. 9. He spoke out against the war and in defence of persecuted priests on various occasions.

In 2023, he was featured in a story on the YouTube channel ROMB about anti-war priests. He also took part in the Seraphim channel’s episode about state propaganda. He also spoke out in defence of Archpriest Alexei Uminsky. In January, Rev. Vostrodymov was summoned by the bishop; he asked the priest to avoid sensitive topics in his speeches.

On 28 March 2024, Rev. Vostrodymov was banned from the ministry. He wrote about this on his Telegram channel. He noted that the ban would last at least until Easter; the reason for the ban was “inappropriate statements on the internet.” He promised not to delete his social network channels but no new videos would be published: “I need time to think”, he wrote.


Rev. ALEXEY VTULOV, Russian Orthodox Church (Podolsk district, Moscow oblast)

Rev. Alexey Vtulov

Rev. Alexey Yurievich Vtulov (b. 1971), formerly a priest at the Sign of the Blessed Virgin Mary church in the Dubrovitsy village, Podolsk district, Moscow oblast, Russia.

Rev. Vtulov refused to read the Prayer for Holy Rus’ for the ‘victory’ of the Russian army over Ukraine. On 15 December 2023, a meeting of the eparchal Disciplinary Commission took place.

On 17 November 2023, the priest was suspended by decree of the Archbishop of Podolsk and Lyubertsy Aksii (Lobov) for one year without the right to wear a pectoral cross and cassock and teach theology. He was ordered to serve as a psalm reader in the Sergius Holy Martyr church in the Klimovsk microdistrict of the city of Podolsk, Moscow oblast.


Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia (of Agathangelos)

Monk HILARION (SHATKOVSKY), ROCOR(A) (village Khokhlovo, Belgorod oblast, Russia)

Monk Hilarion (Shatkovsky)

Monk Hilarion (in the world — Nikolai Shatkovsky), 58 years old, lives in the village of Khokhlovo (Belgorod oblast). He published anti-war statements on social media. In a video, he said that he did not believe the propaganda that calls the West evil. From 15 October 2022, contact with him was lost and he did not appear in social messengers. His neighbour said that he saw how the security forces took the monk away from his house. Ten days later, human rights activists from OVD-Info found the monk in the police. On 26 October, Shatkovsky was transferred from the police department in Valuyki to the oblast department of the FSB. He was provided with a state lawyer for his defence. A case was initiated against him under article 205.2 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation (Public calls for terrorist activities, public justification of terrorism or propaganda of terrorism). He was moved to the pre-trial detention centre no. 3 in Belgorod.

On 28 July 2023, the Belgorod state TV channel broadcast a story that Ilarion “called for reprisals against officials and law enforcement officers.” For this, he was sentenced to 5 years in prison under Art. 205.2 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation (Public calls for terrorist activities, public justification of terrorism or propaganda of terrorism).


Hieromonk IOANN (KURMOYAROV), ROCOR(A) (St Petersburg)

Hieromonk Ioann (Kurmoyarov)

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 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


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

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.


Russia: occupied Ukraine

Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church

Priest BOHDAN HELETA, UGCC, Berdyansk, Zaporizhzhia, occupied Ukraine

Priest Bohdan Heleta

Fr Bohdan Heleta is a cleric of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church in Berdyansk, Zaporizhzhia; a member of the Redemptorist congregation, and priest of the Church of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary. He suffers from diabetes.

With the beginning of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine and occupation of Berdyansk, he decided to stay in the city.

On 16 November 2022, communication with him and another Redemptorist priest, Fr Ivan Levytsky, was lost. On the following day, it became known about their detention by Russian special services. On 23 November 2022, Russian media began to report that the Russian Guard allegedly found weapons and explosives on the territory of the Church of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary and in the cellar of the priests’ house.

The priest is still in captivity, his whereabouts are unknown.


Priest IVAN LEVYTSKY, UGCC, Berdyansk, Zaporizhzhia, occupied Ukraine

Priest Ivan Levytsky

Fr Ivan Levytsky is a cleric of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church in Berdyansk, Zaporizhzhia; a member of the Redemptorist congregation, and priest of the Church of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

With the beginning of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine and occupation of Berdyansk, he decided to stay in the city.

On 16 November 2022, communication with him and another Redemptorist priest, Fr Bohdan Heleta, was lost. On the following day, it became known about their detention by Russian special services. On 23 November 2022, Russian media began to report that the Russian Guard allegedly found weapons and explosives on the territory of the Church of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary and in the cellar of the priests’ house. At that time, a video of Fr Levytsky’s interrogation was published online; there, the consequences of physical and mental exhaustion were visible in his appearance.

The priest is still in captivity, his whereabouts are unknown.


Ukrainian Orthodox Church

Archimandrite FEOGNOST (PUSHKOV), UOC (Kuryachivka village, Luhansk oblast, occupied Ukraine)

Archim. Feognost (Pushkov)

Archim. Feognost (Pushkov), PhD in Theology, rector of the St Nicholas Church of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church in the village of Kuryachivka in the occupied part of the Luhansk oblast of Ukraine. In his Telegram channel, archim. Feognost reported that he received a notice from the Department of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Russian Federation about the initiation of administrative proceedings against him for discrediting the use of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation (Part 1, Article 20.3.3 of the Code of Administrative Offences). The case was registered on 24 April 2023. According to the document, the case was initiated following the claim from the «Luhansk People Republic prosecutor’s office.»

The archimandrite was hinted that the matter would be brought to a fine. However, he was not told why what was the substance of his alleged crime of discrediting the Russian army.


Very Rev. KONSTIANTIN MAKSYMOV, UOC, Tokmak, Zaporizhzhia, occupied Ukraine

Very Rev. Konstiantin Maksymov

Very Rev. Konstiantin Maksymov (b. 1983) was a priest in the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary Church of the Berdiansk eparchy of the UOC in Tokmak, Zaporizhzzhia.

Following the Russian full-scale invasion of Ukraine, he found himself in the occupied territories. He objected to the annexation of the Berdiansk eparchy by the Russian Orthodox Church. He was involved in volunteer work.

On the morning of 10 May 2023, he left occupied Tokmak on a volunteer humanitarian mission through Crimea. At 10:27, he told his friends on the phone that he had arrived at a checkpoint, presumably in Chongar. Since then, there has been no contact with Very Rev. Maksymov. The priest was likely to have been detained by the Russian military and ended up in a filtration camp in Dzhankoy.

The whereabouts of the priest and his further fate remain unknown.


Archpriest VOLODYMYR SAVIYSKY, UOC (Prymorsk, Zaporizhzhia, occupied Ukraine)

Archpriest Volodymyr Saviysky

Archpriest Volodymyr Saviysky, former rector of the St Nicholas Cathedral of the Berdyansk eparchy of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church in the city of Prymorsk on the Sea of Azov (part of the Zaporizhzhia oblast of Ukraine occupied by Russia in a full-scale invasion since the end of February 2022).

The priest gave an interview to Nastoyashcheye Vremya, where he spoke about the persecution he suffered during the occupation.

According to the priest, the military burst into his church with machine guns and disrupted the liturgy. On another occasion, eight armed military men in balaclavas searched the yard, his house and basement. According to the priest, the military claimed that in Kherson they shaved the heads of the priests and kept them tied to the bed for five or six days.

Throughout 2022, he continued to pray for Ukraine. When he was about to perform a prayer service for Ukraine on 31 December 2022, he was stopped by the Russian military: “Armed people dragged me out from behind the altar and forced to take off the vestments. The interrogation lasted five hours. They stripped me to the waist looking for tattoos [laughs] — a Ukrainian trident or some kind of other symbol. They searched the house and took away a computer and phones. This was my first arrest.»

The priest was detained seven times. During one of the detentions, Russians demanded that he would find out the mood of the parishioners during confession. They also forced the detainees to listen to propaganda lectures and required the priest to share political information among parishioners.

In 2023, the occupying authorities demanded that the priest would leave the Ukrainian Orthodox Church. “At some point, they began to say that we do not have the right to remember Metropolitan Onuphriy of Kyiv; instead, we should remember only Patriarch Kirill of Moscow. They forced Metropolitan Ephraim of Berdyansk and Prymorsk to flee: the bishop was forced to leave, and the authorities began to promote the idea that the Berdyansk eparchy should be transferred to the Russian Orthodox Church… Remember only the Patriarch and the new bishop sent from Moscow, cooperate with the authorities, and everything will be fine with you, manna from heaven will rain down on you.” Because the priest refused to sign a petition to transfer to the Russian Orthodox Church, he was detained and interrogated. “They drove me around the city demanding that I accept the decision of the Moscow Synod about the transfer of the Berdyansk diocese to the Russian Orthodox Church. I said that I remain a priest of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, I am a Ukrainian priest, my Metropolitan is in Kyiv – His Beatitude Onuphriy; I took the oath on the cross and Gospel. Then the persecution started.” The priest was threatened with defrocking and criminal prosecution. On 1 June 2023, he had to flee abroad; currently, he is a refugee in Norway.


Orthodox Church of Ukraine

Rev. ANDRI CHUI, Orthodox Church of Ukraine (Donetsk oblast, occupied Ukraine)

Rev. Andri Chui

Rev. Andri Chui, a priest of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine in the Russia-occupied Donetsk oblast (so-called Donetsk People’s Republic); lived under occupation since 2014.

Rev. Chui was detained with another priest of the OCU, Rev. Khristofor Khrimli.

On 22 September 2023, for allegedly committing an administrative offence under Part 5 of Article 5.26 of the Code of Administrative Offenses of the Russian Federation (Violation of legislation on freedom of conscience, freedom of religion and religious associations), the Telmanovsky District Court of the so-called Donetsk People’s Republic imposed an administrative penalty on Rev. Chui in the form of a 30,000 Russian rubles fine with administrative expulsion from the Russian Federation. According to Russian media reports on 3 October 2023, both priests were accused of “supporting the Ukrainian government and armed groups in an anti-Russian and extremist manner, and also inciting hatred and enmity on a national and religious basis”.

In a commentary to Donbas News, the OCU Metropolitan of Donetsk and Mariupol Sergius (Gorobtsov) said that the priests were sent to Russia after being initially held in a pre-trial detention centre in Donetsk. “Their relatives passed medicines, clothes, and food for them to the Donetsk pre-trial detention centre. And then the information was sent that they were transported to the territory of the Russian Federation. Therefore, they are somewhere on the territory of the Russian Federation, probably in custody”. Previously, the Metropolitan also said that priests were forced by bribery and threats to transfer to the Moscow Patriarchate.

The whereabouts of the priests were unknown for a long time. On 19 January 2024, the Norwegian human rights organization Forum 18 reported that both are in the Rostov Deportation Centre. Their deportation case was transferred to the Rostov Oblast Bailiff Service, which has an agreement with the Latvian authorities about the possibility of deporting priests to Latvia. The priests, however, rejected deportation and insisted on being returned to Donetsk oblast. The Russian authorities agreed to their return to occupied Donetsk only on the condition that the priests obtain Russian citizenship.

According to Sergiy (Horobtsov), Metropolitan of Donetsk and Mariupol OCU, quoted by Forum 18, priests were also threatened with criminal prosecution in Russia for alleged ‘extremism’.

The address of the deportation centre where the detained priests are kept (visits are prohibited):
346859 Rostov oblast,
Neklinovskoy district,
village Sinyavskoe,
Centre for temporary detention of foreign citizens.


Rev. KHRISTOFOR (KHRIMLI), Orthodox Church of Ukraine (Donetsk oblast, occupied Ukraine)

Rev. Khristofor (Khrimli)

Rev. Khristofor Khrimli, secular name Vyacheslav Khrimli, a priest of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine in the Russia-occupied Donetsk oblast (so-called Donetsk People’s Republic); lived under occupation since 2022.

Rev. Khrimli was detained with another priest of the OCU, Rev. Andri Chui.

His arrest became known on 17 September 2023.

On 22 September 2023, for allegedly committing an administrative offence under Part 5 of Article 5.26 of the Code of Administrative Offenses of the Russian Federation (Violation of legislation on freedom of conscience, freedom of religion and religious associations), the Telmanovsky District Court of the so-called Donetsk People’s Republic imposed an administrative penalty on Rev. Khrimli in the form of a 30,000 Russian rubles fine with administrative expulsion from the Russian Federation. According to Russian media reports on 3 October 2023, both priests were accused of “supporting the Ukrainian government and armed groups in an anti-Russian and extremist manner, and also inciting hatred and enmity on a national and religious basis”.

In a commentary to Donbas News, the OCU Metropolitan of Donetsk and Mariupol Sergius (Gorobtsov) said that the priests were sent to Russia after being initially held in a pre-trial detention centre in Donetsk. “Their relatives passed medicines, clothes, and food for them to the Donetsk pre-trial detention centre. And then the information was sent that they were transported to the territory of the Russian Federation. Therefore, they are somewhere on the territory of the Russian Federation, probably in custody”. Previously, the Metropolitan also said that priests were forced by bribery and threats to transfer to the Moscow Patriarchate.

The whereabouts of the priests were unknown for a long time. On 19 January 2024, the Norwegian human rights organization Forum 18 reported that both are in the Rostov Deportation Centre. Their deportation case was transferred to the Rostov Oblast Bailiff Service, which has an agreement with the Latvian authorities about the possibility of deporting priests to Latvia. The priests, however, rejected deportation and insisted on being returned to Donetsk oblast. The Russian authorities agreed to their return to occupied Donetsk only on the condition that the priests obtain Russian citizenship.

According to Sergiy (Horobtsov), Metropolitan of Donetsk and Mariupol OCU, quoted by Forum 18, priests were also threatened with criminal prosecution in Russia for alleged ‘extremism’.

The address of the deportation centre where the detained priests are kept (visits are prohibited):
346859 Rostov oblast,
Neklinovskoy district,
village Sinyavskoe,
Centre for temporary detention of foreign citizens.


Spain

Spanish-Portuguese Diocese of the Russian Orthodox Church

Very Rev. ANDREY KORDOCHKIN, Russian Orthodox Church (Madrid, Spain)

Very Rev. Andrey Kordochkin

Very Rev. Andrey Kordochkin — Doctor of Theology, Secretary of the Eparchy of Madrid, Rector of the St Mary Magdalene parish in Madrid — signed an open appeal of the priests of the Russian Orthodox Church against the war; his signature under the appeal was among the first. He gave an extensive interview to DW, in which he explained the reasons for signing the appeal and shared his critical opinion about the ongoing events related to the Russian invasion of Ukraine. In a sermon on Maundy Thursday, he compared Russia’s declared love for Ukraine to the kiss of Judas. On 17 July, Metropolitan Leonid of Klin posted threats on his Telegram channel addressed to Kordochkin: “At this stage, Russia is fighting for its right to live and build the future. Those who do not agree with the construction model may remain outside its borders — it’s a free time, no one is holding anyone. However, we won’t let you screw up either«.

On 26 August 2022, Very Rev. Andrey Kordochkin was dismissed from the Secretary of the Spanish-Portuguese Eparchy post. Following the dismissal, he gave an interview to Novaya Gazeta.


Ukraine

Adventists of the Seventh Day

Believer DMYTRO ZELINSKY, Seventh-day Adventist (Kremenets, Ternopil Region, Ukraine)

Dmytro Zelinsky

Dmytro Zelinsky, b. 1978, Seventh-day Adventist. He was baptised in 2002 in Lysychansk, Lugansk oblast; he left his job with the police on the grounds of its incompatibility with his new faith.

After Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, Zelinsky fled the Lugansk oblast in February 2022. He was registered as an internally displaced person in Kremenets in Ternopil Region in July 2022. Pastor Bohdan Osadchuk confirmed that Zelinsky attended Seventh-day Adventist worship meetings in Kremenets since the spring of 2022. Zelinsky also volunteered for the Dawn of Hope charity working with children with disabilities.

On 21 July 21 2022, a military medical commission declared Zelinsky fit for military service. On 9 September 2022, the Kremenets oblast’s military enlistment office ordered him to report for military service within two days. Zelinsky verbally told officials that he could not serve in the armed forces for reasons of conscience.

Stanislav Nosov, President of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Ukraine, who has known Zelinsky since 2016, noted that Zelinsky explained in writing that as a Seventh-day Adventist, he could not serve in the army, at the third meeting at the enlistment office, having previously limited himself to verbal statements. The military enlistment office and the prosecutor’s office later asserted that Zelinsky did not apply for either a conscientious exemption from mobilisation or an appointment to alternative civilian service.

Zelinsky did not arrive for mobilisation by order on 11 September 2022, after which the prosecutor’s office initiated a case against him under Article 336 of the Criminal Code (“Refusal to conscript for military service during the period of mobilisation or a special period, as well as for military service during the period of conscription of reservists during a special period»). In March 2023, Zelinsky renewed his request — this time in writing — to the Kremenets district military administration for exemption from mobilisation on grounds of conscience or for assignment to alternative civilian service. This request was denied “because such a replacement is not provided for by current legislation.”

On 5 June 2023, the Kremenets District Court judge Tatyana Klim acquitted Zelinsky, referring to Article 35 of the Constitution, which includes the provision: “In the event that the performance of military duty is contrary to the religious beliefs of a citizen, the performance of this duty shall be replaced by alternative (non-military) service.” Judge Klim also noted that the November 2018 presidential decree which invoked martial law did not contain restrictions on the rights set out in Article 35; and that various decisions of the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) in Strasbourg had established the right of conscientious objection to military service.

Prosecutor Olexandr Yanyuk appealed the acquittal to the Ternopil Court of Appeal. On 28 August 2023, a three-judge panel of the Ternopil Court of Appeal, chaired by Irina Lekan, overturned the acquittal and acceded to the request of prosecutor Roman Harmatiuk to sentence Zelinsky to three years in prison with immediate effect.

In November 2023, Zelinsky began serving a three-year sentence for conscientious objection to mobilisation. He is expected to soon arrive in prison in Kolomyia, Ivano-Frankivsk oblast. He plans to appeal the verdict to the Supreme Court of Ukraine and seek protection of his rights at the European Court of Human Rights.

Source: Forum 18


Mukachevo Greek Catholic Diocese

Rev. ROMAN KURAKH, Mukachevo Greek Catholic Eparchy (Uzhhorod, Ukraine)

Rev. Roman Kurakh

Rev. Roman Kurakh, priest of the Exaltation of the Cross Cathedral of the Mukachevo Greek Catholic Eparchy, Uzhgorod.

At the divine liturgy on 6 August 2023, Rev. Kurach said a homily in which, in particular, there were the folowing words: “And we very much ask the Lord to do this miracle: to reconcile these two great peoples, Ukraine and Russia, so that they do not fight, do not torture, do not destroy each other, but that these two beautiful peoples build the Kingdom of Heaven already here on earth, and once together they would ascend to heaven embracing each other and glorifying the Lord…”

Journalist Daria Sipihina, who was passing by the cathedral, heard the homily through a loudspeaker and came to express her indignation. She perceived the priest’s words to be a call «to bless the Russians during the war and call to hug those who kill us.» In a verbal exchange, the priest said that his brother was serving in the Armed Forces of Ukraine, but he would still pray for peace even if he died. Sipihina posted a recording of an argument with the priest on Facebook, after which it quickly spread.

Religious figures of Ukraine were also indignant at the sermon. Thus, Bishop Warsonofiy (Rudnik) of Uzhhorod of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine referred to Rev. Kurach as a “Rashist” on Facebook and called on the leadership of the Mukachevo Greek Catholic Eparchy to give a proper assessment to his words.

On 7 August 2023, the eparchy published a statement about the disciplinary rposecution of Rev. Kurakh. It noting that his remark “under the conditions of a devastating war bears the risk of being associated with propaganda narratives about ‘fraternal peoples’, which, unfortunately, exist in some churches affiliated in Russia. The eparchy also distanced itself from any suspicion that within it there may be any tendency towards the ideology of the “Russian world” manifested in the belief in the existence of “fraternal peoples”. At the same time, the statement proclaimed adherence to the Gospel call “to the universal eschatological reconciliation of mankind”.