Open Letter from Priests in Defence of Prisoners in the “Moscow case” team | 22 September 2019
Punishment should be proportionate to the violation of the law, and the authorities should impose additional liability on the person, rather than exempting him/her from it
Open Letter from Priests in Defence of Prisoners in the “Moscow case”
Photo: Valery Sharifulin / TASS

He has told you, O mortal, what is good;

and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice,

and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?

(Micah 6.8).


In fulfilling our pastoral duty of mourning for the prisoners, we, the priests of the Russian Orthodox Church, each on our own behalf, consider it our duty to express our belief in the need to review the judicial decisions in the form of prison sentences awarded to a number of defendants in the “Moscow case”.

One of the convicts, Konstantin Kotov, without having committed any violent acts against the authorities or other citizens was subjected to unprecedented cruel punishment. All of this man’s “criminal” activities consisted of interceding for other prisoners, but only by peaceful means. We were extremely disappointed to learn that one piece of physical evidence taken from him was a homemade poster with the words of Archpriest Aleksandr I, “Forgiveness is what we call for” and a call to exchange prisoners with Ukraine. 29 years after the murder of Father Aleksandr, the investigation of which was inconclusive, his words continue to be relevant and sound like a reproach to our bitter and twisted society. As for the exchange of prisoners between Russia and Ukraine, which took place after the arrest and trial of Konstantin Kotov, he was unequivocally supported by the Russian Orthodox Church, and it is absolutely ridiculous to try and consider it as a call for illegal actions.


We are completely bewildered by the judge’s refusal to include a video recording proving Konstantin Kotov’s innocence and contradicting the testimony of police officers who repeat each other word for word. We want to remind everyone who has testified or who will testify on this and other matters of Scripture: “A false witness shall not be unpunished, And he that speaketh lies shall perish.” (Proverbs 19.9). but they found none, though many false witnesses came forward. At last two came forward (Matthew 26.60).

We hope that other defendants in the case, who are awaiting trial and are not accused of violence (in particular Alexey Minyailo, an Orthodox man actively involved in social and charitable work), will be cleared of all charges and released in the near future.

We strongly oppose any manifestation of violence, both by demonstrators and by the authorities, whose responsibility it is to ensure the safety of citizens, including the demonstrators themselves.

With regards to the defendants in the “Moscow case”, we are shocked and puzzled by the court’s sentences in comparison to other, much more lenient sentences handed down by the Russian courts to those accused of far more serious crimes. We believe that punishment should be proportionate to the violation of the law, and the authorities should impose additional liability on the person, rather than exempting him/her from it. Otherwise, justice itself turns into a joke and “mass disorder”.

We want to strongly express the hope that Russian citizens will live with confidence in a judicial system that is just and impartial regardless of the social, economic and political status of the suspect or the accused. The court must be able to protect the citizen from the arbitrariness of the executive power and law enforcement agencies, otherwise their very existence turns into mere decoration and formality.

We appeal to those with judicial power who serve in the law enforcement agencies of our country. Many of you were baptised in the Orthodox Church and consider yourselves believers. Judicial proceedings should not be repressive, courts should not be used as a means of suppressing dissent, and the use of force should not be carried out with unjustified cruelty.

We are expressing our concern that the sentences handed down are more likely to intimidate Russian citizens than to be a fair trial to the defendants themselves. Paul the Apostle links fear to the human condition of slaves: “The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again” (Romans 8:15), and John the Apostle wrote: “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love.” (1 John 4:1). You cannot build a society of free, loving people on intimidation.

We call on everybody to pray for the prisoners and for those who have the fates of these prisoners resting in their hands, for Russia, its authorities, its army and its people. May God bless us all with His peace and give us the strength and determination to respect and love each other.

  1. Archpriest Oleg Batov, Cleric of the Church of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin (Moscow).
  2. Archpriest Aleksandr Borisov, Rector of the Church of the Holy Cosmas and Damian (Moscow).
  3. Archpriest Leonid Griliches, Cleric of the monument to St. Job the Long-Suffering (Brussels).
  4. Archpriest Aleksandr Dubovoy, Rector of the Church of St. Vvedensky in the village of Bereslavka (Volgograd Oblast).
  5. Father Nikolai Yevseyev, Cleric of the Petropavlovsk Stavropegial Church (Dublin), Rector of the Holy Trinity parishes (Cork) and the Church of the Intercession of the Virgin Mary (St. Joseph’s RC Church) (Drogheda).
  6. Archpriest Viktor Grigorenko, Rector of the Church of Sergievsky in Sergiev Posad (Moscow Oblast).
  7. Hieromonch Yohan (Guita), Cleric of the Church of the Holy Cosmas and Damian (Moscow).
  8. Father Dimitry Didenko, Director of the Varnitsa Gymnasium (Rostov).
  9. Father Aleksy Zabelin, Cleric of the Andrey Rublev Church, Ramenki, Moscow.
  10. Archpriest Vladimir Zelinsky, Rector of the Church in Honour of the Icon of the Blessed Virgin Mary “Joy of All Who Sorrow” (Brescia).
  11. Father Dionysius Zemlyanov, Rector of the Church of St. John the Apostle (Tomsk).
  12. Archpriest Sergey Zolotariov, Rector of the Church of the Holy Great Martyr Theodore on Shchirkov Str. (Veliky Novgorod).
  13. Archpriest Georgiy Ioffe, Rector of the Chapel of the Icon of Our Lady “Soothe My Sorrows” (St. Petersburg).
  14. Archpriest Dimitry Klimov, Rector of the Cathedral of St. Nicholas (Kalach-na-Donu).
  15. Archpriest Andrey Kordochkin, Sacristan of the Cathedral of Santa Maria Magdalena (Madrid).
  16. Archpriest Pyotr Korotaev, Cleric of the St. John the Baptist Cathedral, Ivanovsky village (Moscow Oblast).
  17. Father Sergey Kruglov, Cleric of the Saviour Cathedral (Minusinsk).
  18. Father Aleksandr Kuhta, Deputy Chairman of the Synodal Missionary Department of the Belarusian Orthodox Church (Minsk).
  19. Father Vladimir Lapshin, Acting Rector of the Church of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin (Moscow).
  20. Father Andrey Loginov, Cleric of the Parishes of the Smolensk and Vladimir Icons of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Nizhny Novgorod).
  21. Archpriest Andrey Lorgus, Supernumerary Cleric of St. Nicholas’ temple on the Three Mountains, Director of the Institute for Christian Psychology (Moscow).
  22. Archpriest Aleksandr Lykov, Cleric of the Transfiguration Church in Zhukovsky (Moscow Oblast)
  23. Father Fyodor Ludogovsky, Supernumerary Cleric of the Church of Elijah the Prophet in Izvarine (Moscow).
  24. Archimandrite Savva (Mazhuko), St. Nicholas Monastery (Gomel).
  25. Archpriest Konstantin Momotov, Rector of the temple of Paisius the Great (Volgograd).
  26. Father Aleksandr Parfyonov, Cleric of the Monastery of St. Jacob Saviour (Rostov).
  27. Archpriest Vyacheslav Perevezentsev, Rector of St. Nicholas Church, Makarovo village (Moscow Oblast)
  28. Hieromonk Dimitry (Pershin), Expert of the State Duma of the Russian Federation’s Family, Women, and Children Affairs Committee (Moscow).
  29. Archpriest Dionisy Pozdnyaev, Rector of the parish of St. Peter and St. Paul (Hong Kong).
  30. Hieromonk Feodorit (Senchukov), Cleric of Mogilev-Podolsk diocese of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine (Mogilev-Podolsk).
  31. Father Aleksandr Sitnikov, Cleric of the All Saints Church in Mezhdurechensk (Kemerovo Oblast).
  32. Archpriest Dimitry Sobolevsky, Cleric of the Pokrovsky parish (Dusseldorf).
  33. Archpriest Aleksandr Stepanov, Rector of the Church of the Holy Martyr Anastasia (St. Petersburg).
  34. Archpriest Alexey Uminsky, Rector of the Church of the Life-Giving Trinity in Khokhli (Moscow).
  35. Archpriest Aleksandr Shabanov, Rector of the Church of St. Arseniy Tverskiy (Tver).
  36. Father Sergey Shapkin, Cleric of the Tomsk diocese.
  37. Father Georgiy Brylyov, Cleric of the Church of St. Nicholas of Mirlikiya in Pokrovsky, Moscow.
  38. Hieromonk Hilarion (Reznichenko), Professor at St. Petersburg State University, Supernumerary Cleric.
  39. Archpriest Andreн Selin, Cleric of the Izyum Diocese of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine, the Church of the Life-Giving Trinity in the village of Volokhov Yar, Chuguevsky district.
  40. Father Vasily Bush, Cleric of St. Nicholas Cathedral (Vienna).
  41. Father Evgeny Romashkin, Cleric of the Moscow Diocese (regional), Rector of the Panteleimonov Church in Voskresensk, Moscow Oblast.
  42. Archpriest Dionisy Dudenkov, Monastery of the Holy Mandylion.
  43. Priest Georgiy Mikhailov, Cleric of the Church of the Holy Cosmas and Damian, Moscow.
  44. Father Pavel Ushakov, Rector of the St. Kazan Cathedral in the village of Pershino, Belevskaya diocese.
  45. Hegumen Agafangel (Belykh), Rector of the Bishop’s Metochion of the Holy Trinity temple in the village of Novotroevka, Belgorod Oblast.
  46. Archpriest Sergey Titkov, Rector of the Church of the Protection of the Holy Virgin in the village of Turlatovo, Ryazan Oblast.
  47. Archpriest Konstantin Gipp, Rector of the Church of the Protection of the Mother of God, Zhizdra.
  48. Father Andrey Mizyuk, Church of Serafim Sarov, Saratov
  49. Archpriest Vyacheslav Baskakov, Rector of the Church in the name of the icon of the icon of the Mother of God “Joy of All Who Sorrow” (with coins fused to it by a bolt of lightning)” at the Clinic named after V.P. Avaeva, Tver.
  50. Father Vasily Tolstunov, Cleric of St. Nicholas Cathedral, Vienna.
  51. Priest Georgiy Bukin. Cleric of Ilyinsky temple in Aprelevka, Moscow Oblast.
  52. Father Maxim Burdin, Cleric of the Astrakhan diocese.
  53. Father Dimitry Safronov, Cleric of the Church of the Protection of the Holy Virgin Temple, Moscow.
  54. Father Yohan Burdin, Rector of the Church of the Resurrection of Christ in Karabanovo village, Krasnoselskoye district of the Kostroma diocese.
  55. Father Fyodor Kytmanov, Supernumerary Cleric of the Cathedral in Honour of St. Makarii of Altai (Altai Republic, Gorno-Altaisk).
  56. Father Alexey Sharov, Cleric of the Ryazan Diocese.
  57. Father Alexander Galkevich, Cleric of the Cathedral of St. Sergius of Radonezh, Yugorsk
  58. Sergey Bodan, Cleric of the Assumption Cathedral in Shimorskoye.
  59. Archbishop Valentin Bonilla, Rector of the Church of the Holy Sign-painter in the village of Vyrets, Likhoslavlsky district, Tver Oblast (Bezhetsk diocese).
  60. Father Andrey Grinyev, Cleric of the Church of St. Nicholas of Mirlikiya, Moscow
  61. Archpriest Aleksandr Petrenko, Rector of the Church of St. Spyridon of Trimifunda, the village of Zelenyi Gai of the Sumy Diocese of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine (Mogilev-Podolsk).
  62. Father Grigoriy Gudin, Rector of the Parish in the name of Saint Sophronius of Irkutsk in the village of Mamony, Irkutsk district.
  63. Father Aleksandr Hekalo, Tambov, Cleric of the Transfiguration Cathedral.
  64. Father Georgiy Gagarin, Supernumerary Cleric of Tver Diocese.
  65. Archpriest Vitaly Shkarupin. Volgograd Diocese Holy Trinity parish of Kamyshin.
  66. Deacon Aleksandr Zanemonets. Russian Archbishopric in Western Europe (Paris-Jerusalem)
  67. Archpriest Georgiy Edelstein, Rector of the Resurrection Church in the village of Karabanovo, Kostroma Oblast
  68. Father Aleksy Timakov, Rector of the St.  Nicholas of Mirlikiya at the Preobrazhensky Cemetery in Moscow and the Church of St. Nicholas of Mirlikiya at the Centre for Tuberculosis Control in Moscow.
  69. Deacon Dmitry Pavlyukevich, Cleric of the Church of St. Nicholas the Wonderworker (Grodno).
  70. Hieromonk Hilarion (Zaitsev), Supernumerary Cleric of the Moscow diocese.
  71. Archpriest Andrey Korenkov, Cleric of the Cathedral of St. Equal to the Apostles Prince Vladimir, St. Petersburg.
  72. Archpriest Andrey Lvov, Rector of the parish of Church of St. Seraphim of Sarov, Ivanovo
  73. Priest Dionisy Kostomarov, Rector of the Church of St. Saint Nicholas of Mirlikiya, Orel, Head of the youth department of the Orel Diocese
  74. Archpriest Vladimir Fyodorov, Cleric of Prince Vladimir Cathedral in St. Petersburg.
  75. Father Nikolai Sushkov, Supernumerary Cleric of the Church of All Saints in Tyumen.
  76. Archpriest Georgiy Martyshevsky, Cleric of the Templ of St. Aleksandr Nevsky, Rogachev, Belarus.
  77. Archpriest Pyotr Bornovalov, Rector of the Temple of Iverskiy, Pokosniy village, the Fraternal Diocese, Irkutsk Metropolis.
  78. Hegumen Gavriil (Kulikov), Rector of the Holy Spirit Monastery in the city of Kulikov, Volgograd.
  79. Archpriest Georgiy Dobrolyubov, Rector of the Resurrection Church in Nikolsk, Penza Oblast, Kuznetskiy diocese.
  80. Archpriest Igor Kropochev, Cleric of the Transfiguration Cathedral in Novokuznetsk.
  81. Hegumen Filaret (Solovyov), Rector of the Voskresensky (old) parish of Vichuga, Ivano-Voznesenskiy diocese.
  82. Father Dmitry Ushakov, Cleric of the Church of the Holy Martyr Harlampius, St. Petersburg.
  83. Father Evgeny Ageyev, Cleric of the Epiphany Church, Frolovo, Uryupinskiy diocese.
  84. Priest Anatoly Abramov, Cleric of the Church of the Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin, Raevo, Moscow.
  85. Priest Sergey Tvorogov, Cleric of the Temple of Our Lady’s Icon the Skoroposlushnitsa on Khodynka Field in Moscow.
  86. Father Igor Podoprigorin, Rector of the Saint Michael the Archangel Church in the village of Vorobyovka, Vorobyovsky district, Voronezh Oblast

  87. Hieromonk Ignatius (Lange), Rector of the parish of the Church of Our Lady of Prompt Succor, Cherepovets.
  88. Father Aleksy Zorin, Rector of the temple of St. Tikhon of Zadonsk, Rybinsk.
  89. Father Artemiy Morozov, Cleric of the Samara diocese.
  90. Archpriest Gleb Vechelkovsky, Supernumerary Cleric of the Togliatti and Zhiguli diocese.
  91. Hieromonk Prokhor (Kuksenko), Brethren of the Monastery of the Holy Ghost
    in the city of Volgograd.
  92. Archpriest Dionisy Kuznetsov, Cleric of the The Temple of the Kazan Icon of the Mother of God, Samara.
  93. Father Mark Mazitov, Cleric of the Parish Church of the Intercession of the Mother of God, Megion, Khanty-Mansiysk diocese.
  94. Priest Evgeny Lapayev, Rector of the Holy Trinity Church in Sayanogorsk, Republic of Khakassia.


17th September 2019

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