Fines for Russian priest after opposition to war


Eastern Europe


Fr Nikandr Pinchuk. Photo Facebook, Eastern Orthodox Christian News

A Russian Orthodox Church (ROCOR) priest has been fined the equivalent of several hundred euros after denouncing the war in Ukraine.

According to Forum 18, Fr. Nikandr Pinchuk, who also serves as a monk from the Urals, will need to pay the equivalent of a two-month salary (100,000 Russian Roubles) to a Sverdlosk region court. Pinchuk pleaded guilty to the charges on 17 October, leaving him with fines well above the average of 15,000 roubles he earns each month.

In March, Pinchuk also came under fire after writing a 140-word social media post that attacked the Russian military as the “horde of the antichrist” in its “special military operation” in Ukraine. After the incident, the fines grew after he “discredited the Russian Armed Forces on a VKontakte post that “evaluated the performance of Russia’s “special military operation.” Pinchuk is part of a branch of the Orthodox Church that is not affiliated with the Moscow Patriarchate (MP). Some MP members have voiced support for the country’s “special operation” in Ukraine.


Pinchuk’s lawyer initially said that a petition would be filed, so the court can consider the case, as reported by the Forum 18 article. Those who fall under “Criminal Code Article 76.2” for “minor or moderate offences” may be “released from criminal liability” if the fine covers the damages incurred. However, Pinchuk says that the court has ignored his petition and has “deceived him.”

“In court, it was all different, there was no petition, although the case was considered in a 'special' procedure,” he said regarding his case. “Because they have such a job – to torment innocent people,” he said.

Even if the fines are paid off, Pinchuk will still hold a criminal record for another year. Those who have a criminal background possess “a range of consequences” such as bans on holding jobs.

“I am a priest and have the right to denounce evil, regardless of who is involved and the political situation,” he said before his charges.

Biblical command

Pinchuk is not the only one to receive criminal convictions for religious opposition. As also reported by Forum 18, the Russian government has used various tactics to pressure religious leaders into supporting the invasion. These have often taken the form of fines and threats. Fr. Ioann Burdin, who is from the Moscow Patriarchate’s Kostroma Diocese, was fined after he condemned the war in a Sunday sermon, while emphasising the Biblical command, “Thou shalt not kill.”

Fr. Ioann Kurmoyarov, who belongs to the same Orthodox branch as Pinchuk, is currently on trial from the statements made within his YouTube channel videos. Kurmoyarov criticised the Moscow Patriarchate’s supportive position in the war and has stated that “aggressors” will not enter heaven. He also said that condemning the war remains a “spiritual matter” and should be done as a “principle.”

Religious reasons

Baptist and Communist municipal deputy, Nina Belyayeva, became the first person to be prosecuted for religious reasons after a district council meeting. She stated that “Murdering other people” and attacking the “territory of another state” has “nothing in common with Christian beliefs,” as quoted by Forum 18. She has since left the country.



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