Police search residence of 86-year-old Russian priest previously fined for anti-war sermon

Priest Victor Pivovarov. Photo: Novaya Gazeta Europe

Priest Victor Pivovarov. Photo: Novaya Gazeta Europe


7 October, 13:25 UTC+3. The reports of Victor Pivovarov’s arrest turned out to be erroneous, vergers of his church in Slavyansk-on-Kuban told The New Tab journal.

The police did not detain the priest, but warned him that a criminal case would be opened should he “discredit” the Russian armed forces once again. The New Tab’s sources also said that the police seized several phones and computers in the church.


20:57 UTC+3. Victor Pivovarov has been arrested, his status is yet unknown. The police claim to have released him after an interrogation.

On June 3, Pivovarov’s assistant, Hieromonk Iona, was beaten up by law enforcement, after which a court sentenced him to two days in jail for “failing to obey a lawful police order”.

Russian law enforcement have searched the monastic cell of Victor Pivovarov, a priest previously fined for “discrediting” the Russian army during a sermon. The search took place on 5 October, a cleric from the South Russian diocese told Novaya-Europe.

Lawyers are currently looking into which state body conducted the search and on what premise. It is also unclear so far whether any items have been seized. Pivovarov and his supporters believe that a criminal indictment may soon be brought against him.

There are fears that the 86-year-old cleric from Slavyansk-on-Kuban, who had already been fined 40,000 rubles (€450 at the time) in March, may be charged with “repeated discreditation” of the Russian army because of two sermons published more recently on the website of the South Russian diocese. “Repeated discreditation” of the armed forces is a criminal offence.

On 26 September, the website published a sermon titled “The Cult of War” and signed by Pivovarov’s assistant. The text denounces the “worship of the god of war” and professes the cult of war to be an integral part of “all totalitarian anti-human regimes” as well as of the “ideology of the future Antichrist”.

In early July, the same website published a sermon by Pivovarov himself, in which he criticised the leaders of the Russian Orthodox Church for cooperating with the siloviki.

Victor Pivovarov was fined for “discrediting” the Russian army in March after a woman who heard an anti-war sermon of his filed a report with the police. The priest did not appeal the court decision; his parishioners collected the money to pay the fine.

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