26 February 2021, 10:00
Defrocked priest Sergy's pretrial detention extended until end of spring
Moscow, February 26, Interfax - The Basmanny District Court of Moscow has agreed on a three-month extension of the pretrial arrest of ex-priest Sergy Romanov, charged with several crimes, including inducement to suicide.
"The court has granted the investigator's petition. Nikolay Romanov's measure of restraint in the form of remand has been extended until May 28, 2021," court spokesperson Irina Sofinskaya told Interfax.
Sergy's lawyer Pavel Babikov has said he will appeal the ruling. "We will appeal, naturally," Babikov told Interfax.
He said that he asked the court to place Sergy under house arrest. "Many character references were submitted to prove that he is characterized positively, that he won't hide," Babikov said.
Romanov has been charged with inducement to suicide, violation of the right to freedom of conscience and religion, and arbitrariness. He has pleaded not guilty.
According to the Russian Investigative Committee, Romanov publically urged at least ten nuns residing at the convent he was in charge of to kill themselves.
"Subsequently, while aware that his calls may be perceived by an indefinitely extensive audience and result in consequences dangerous to the public, [he] posted a video recording of his speech containing elements of inducing believers to commit suicide under the pretense of the religious ideology of Christianity on the Internet," the Investigative Committee said.
Also, according to the case files, having disagreed with a ban on religious service, Romanov did not leave the monastery and discretionally barred everyone from its grounds, including representatives of the Yekaterinburg Diocese, thereby unlawfully preventing them from conducting religious rites.
Romanov is also suspected of vigilantism, having prevented attempts to take stock of the monastery's on-site assets in violation of civil laws.
In 2020, Romanov was defrocked and later ex-communicated by the Russian Orthodox Church. In June, he and his supporters effectively seized the convent he founded in Sredneuralsk.
Romanov's views and remarks gained particular resonance in 2020, due to his public denial of the threat of the novel coronavirus.