Police detain dissident Orthodox figure


TASS, 29 December 2020


After having seized the Central Urals convent and been expelled from the church, the former schema monk Sergius Romanov was arrested in order to give evidence. This was reported to TASS by a source in law enforcement agencies. According to the source, he was arrested for questioning because of a video recording posted on YouTube in which Sergius urges his devotees to "die for Russia."


Romanov has been fined twice for his preaching on the basis of articles in the Code of Administrative Violations of Law about inciting hatred and strife and about disseminating unreliable socially significant information.


The news agency's source also reported that law enforcement agencies are conducting searches on the territory of the Central Urals convent.


A TASS correspondent related from the site of the events that a cordon of OMON personnel was formed at the entrance to the cloister. Romanov's supporters have come to the cloister. Traffic police and a tow truck are stationed on the road near the cloister. No conflicts have occurred at the site. Subsequently law enforcement agencies removed the cordon at the entrance into the cloister and Sergius' supporters were able to gain access to its territory.


The head of the Department for Relations of Church with Society and News Media of the Ekaterinburg diocese, Archpriest Maksim, reported that he does not know about events occurring at the convent. The press service of the investigation department of the Investigative Committee of Russia (S.K.R.) for the region responded that it still does not have information for news media about the situation.


Earlier several news media reported that in 1980 Romanov was sentenced to 13 years in a penal colony for robbery and murder of a school teacher. After his release from the penal colony he joined a monastery.


About Romanov


Romanov was inhibited from ministry in late May 2020 after he disobeyed a prohibition on delivering sermons. Later a church court of the Ekaterinburg diocese stripped him of clerical status for violating his clerical oath. The diocese ordered Romanov to leave the convent, but he continued to perform divine services there. The metropolitanate calls the situation in the convent a seizure. On 10 September a church court expelled the schema monk Sergius from the church and on 19 October the head of the RPTs confirmed this decision. (tr. by PDS, posted 29 December 2020)



by Tatiana Drogaeva

Kommersant-Urals, 29 December 2020


Former schema monk Sergius (secular name Nikolai Romanov) is suspected of committing the crime specified in part 3 of article 110 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation (Encouragement of minor-aged person to commit suicide), his lawyer Svetlana Gerasimova explained. He was arrested and taken for questioning at the S.K.R. for Sverdlovsk oblast after the storming of the nunnery early Tuesday morning.


"I submitted a petition to be able to communicate with my client in private. But the investigators have still not considered it (the petition was filed around 3.00 a.m. local time). They are not allowing me to speak with my client in private. Only in the presence of a guard or with open doors. This violates the rights of the suspect since he may have the right to meet with a defense attorney before the first interrogation," the lawyer Svertlana Gerasimova told Kommersant-Urals. Interrogation should not happen without a conversation with a defense attorney, she added. The attorney also recalled that investigation activities on the grounds of the convent also were conducted with violations.


It is presumed that the reason for the arrest and interrogation was a sermon, a recording of which was posted on the YouTube channel of Vsevolod Moguchev on 5 December under the title "For faith in Christ, let us face death." During the sermon Sergius cited the example of the story of the spiritual daughter of St. Serafim of Sarov, Elena of Diveevo. Serafim of Sarov blessed her to die in the place of her brother Mikhail Manturov. During the sermon, Nikolai Romanov also asked several parishioners whether they were ready to die for Russia, for children, and for the future. "We are not talking about suicide but about self-sacrifice for the sake of people and about patriotism," Dmitry Savchenko, who is representing the interests of the cloister, explained for Kommersant-Urals.


The commissioner for the rights of the child for Sverdlovsk oblast, Igor Morokov, filed a petition in the office of the prosecutor requesting an examination of the recording looking for encouragement of suicide. Mr. Morokov confirmed the report about this for Kommersant-Urals. In the recording he detected a possible violation of the law on the protection of children from information harmful for health and development (federal law 436). The reason for this was that children were present during the sermon.


Nikolai Romanov's defense attorney is sure that all of the conflicts surrounding the Central Urals convent are connected with disagreements concerning performance of sacraments in the time of the pandemic. As the spiritual director of the Central Urals convent, Father Sergius criticized federal authorities and the leadership of the Russian Orthodox Church for closing churches during the period of self-isolation. He was fined by a court for fake news about the coronavirus and for extremism in his sermons that were posted on YouTube. Later he was unfrocked and excommunicated.


On the basis of the petition of the diocese, two criminal cases were opened in connection with incidents in the monastery, based on part 3 of article 148 of the CC RF ("Violation of the right to religious confession") and article 330 of the CC RF ("Highhanded behavior"). In addition, the police opened an administrative case against the nun Kasinia, who assisted in the family education of children who are living in the convent. (tr. by PDS, posted 29 December 2020)

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