Russian Priest Suspended for Three Years For Presiding Over Alexei Navalny's Memorial Service

The Russian Orthodox Church suspends a priest for 3 years after he presided over a memorial service for Alexei Navalny, a fierce critic of Putin, raising questions about the church's stance on political dissent.

author-image
Nitish Verma
Updated On
New Update
Russian Priest Suspended for Holding Memorial Service for Alexei Navalny

Russian Priest Suspended for Three Years For Presiding Over Alexei Navalny's Memorial Service

The Moscow Diocese of the Russian Orthodox Church has suspended a priest named Dmitry Safronov from clerical duties for three years after he presided over a memorial service in March 2024 for the late Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny. The diocese did not provide a reason for Safronov's punishment, which forbids him from giving blessings, wearing the frock, and bearing the church's priestly cross until 2027.

Safronov held the memorial service for Navalny on March 26, 2024, which was attended by thousands of people. Navalny, who was a fierce critic of President Vladimir Putin, had died earlier that month. Following the service, the Moscow Diocese announced that Safronov would be moved to another church in Moscow to perform the duties of a psalm-reader during his three-year suspension.

In a statement, the diocese said that at the end of Safronov's period of penance, "a decision will be made on the possibility of Safronov's further priestly service based on feedback from the place of obedience." The diocese did not elaborate on the specific reasons behind Safronov's suspension or link it directly to the Navalny memorial service.

Why this matters: The suspension of Dmitry Safronov highlights the tensions between the Russian Orthodox Church and those who oppose the government of Vladimir Putin. It raises questions about the church's stance on political dissent and its relationship with the Kremlin.

The Russian Orthodox Church has not issued any further statements on Safronov's case. The church's decision to suspend him for three years and reassign him to a lower-ranking religious role suggests disapproval of his actions in presiding over the memorial for Alexei Navalny, although church officials have not explicitly confirmed this. Safronov's future as a priest in the Russian Orthodox Church remains uncertain and will be reevaluated after his suspension period ends in 2027, according to the article.

Key Takeaways

  • Russian priest Dmitry Safronov suspended for 3 years for Navalny memorial
  • Suspension forbids him from priestly duties until 2027; reassigned as psalm-reader
  • Moscow Diocese did not provide reason, but linked to Navalny memorial
  • Highlights tensions between Russian Orthodox Church and political dissent
  • Safronov's future as priest uncertain, pending reevaluation after suspension