Imprisoned dissident monk still attracting media attention


Interfax-Religiia, 8 February 2021


The Moscow City Court ruled as legal the detention of Nikolai Romanov, known as Schehegumen Sergius, who is accused of a number of crimes, including encouragement of suicide.


"The order of the Basman court of Moscow of 29 December 2020, selecting for Romanov a measure of restriction in the form of detention in custody, is left without change and the appeals filed in defense of the interests of Romanov are not granted," the Moscow City Court press service told Interfax on Monday.


Therefore, he will remain in detention until 28 February.


In an interview with Interfax, the former schema monk's lawyer, Svetlana Gerasimova, noted that a decision regarding the intention to appeal the decision of the Moscow City Court has still not been made by the defense. "Of course, we will first get the court document and we will analyze the reasoning of the court, and then we will make a decision," Gerasimova said.


Romanov is accused of encouraging suicide, violating the right of freedom of conscience and religious confession, and arbitrariness. He does not admit his guilt.


According to the Investigative Committee of Russia (S.K.R.), Romanov publicly urged no fewer than ten nuns, who are living in the Central Urals convent, to commit suicide, and subsequently, "realizing that his calls might be embraced by an indefinite group of people and cause socially dangerous consequences, he posted on the internet a video recording of his statement containing evidence of encouragement of believers to commit suicide as a form of the religious ideology of Christianity."


In addition, according to the gist of the case, since Romanov disagreed with the decision to ban him from clerical ministry, he did not leave the cloister and he prevented access to its territory to all persons at his discretion, including representatives of the Ekaterinburg diocese, thereby interfering with the conduct of religious rituals in violation of law.


The investigation also believes that Romanov acted arbitrarily in preventing the inventory of immovable property on the territory of the monastery, in violation of civil law.


In 2020, Romanov was deprived of his clerical status and subsequently expelled from the church. In June, along with his supporters, he effectively seized control of the Central Urals convent.


Romanov's views and statements acquired special resonance in 2020 because of his public denial of the threat of the coronavirus. (tr. by PDS, posted 8 February 2021)

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