When it comes to strange news stories, Russia arguably provides the lions share. This week, according to 66.ru news, a Russian Orthodox priest named Sergei who became notorious for his denial of coronavirus has taken his notoriety to the next level, by launching a medieval-style siege on a women’s monastery in the town of Sredneuralsk alongside a battalion of Cossack fighters.
Russia is currently battling a widespread outbreak of the coronavirus and as a result, has implemented strict social distancing and prevention measures to stop the spread of Covid-19. In particular, monasteries with their close proximity living, have suffered high rates of coronavirus. Father Sergei, who was the spiritual leader of the women’s monastery in question, has continually preached that coronavirus doesn’t exist and subsequently ignored all guidelines which led to him being expelled from the monastery by the authorities of the Russian Orthodox Church.
Father Sergei was not all too pleased with the decision to punish him for refusing to follow guidelines and descended upon the monastery with a battalion of Cossack fighters. The mother superior who had been in charge since 2005 was literally chased out of the building before the Cossacks formed a defensive perimeter outside.
When it comes to Russian Orthodox Priests, they’re not on par with priests from say, the Catholic church. They are not to be messed with. Father Sergei was a former police officer and changed his name to Nikolai Romanov to honor the last Emperor of Russia. He spent 13 years of his life in a Russian jail for murder. He formerly held the position as confessor for the former Crimean prosecutor of vast internet fame, Natalia Poklonskaya.
Under Father Sergei’s control, all journalists have been banned from entry and a priest sent to replace the ousted Mother Superior in an attempt to deescalate the situation, has been turned away. In Moscow, religious figures are fully aware of the ongoing situation but are unsure how to handle it. So far only stating that they hope Father Sergei and his supports will make the right choice and not damage their own security and spiritual well-being.
It’s likely Father Sergei will soon be arrested if the situation is not resolved peacefully, in which case he faces trials in both a religious court on charges of defying bans on public ministry and in a regular court where he faces charges on of inciting hatred.
Only in Russia.