Tula, May 7, Interfax - The police have opened a criminal case over the killings of six dogs from the St. Kazan Nunnery in the village of Kolyupanovo in the Tula Region of Russia, a representative of the regional police department told Interfax.
"The criminal case was opened under Article 245 of the Criminal Code (animal abuse)," the representative said.
A March 16 incident at the nunnery triggered a public outcry in the mass media and on social networks. According to volunteers, local priest Andrey Dyomin ousted some dogs which had been living at the nunnery for years. The volunteers were told that the dogs were placed in good hands via shelters, and the police were told that "it was a miracle, and the dogs flew away." The dogs were later sighted in local forests and fields in a radius of 30-40 kilometers. Six dogs were found dead.
The police carried out an inquiry into the removal of the dogs from the nunnery's premises, but found no formal elements of a crime. According to the police, the dogs ran away after their cages were left unlocked. The volunteers disagreed and said, citing representatives of the parish, that the dogs were taken away on Dyomin's orders, and their ousting was paid for (there is a video of the meeting posted online).
The Aleksin inter-district prosecutor said the police refusal to open a criminal case was unlawful and unfounded and ordered an additional inquiry. Interfax has a copy of the prosecutor's order.
A total of 25 dogs have been found alive. All of these dogs were left on the nunnery's doorstep as puppies, and the mother superior took them in and raised them. The mother superior has been unwell and practically relieved of her duties in recent months.
VITA Animal Rights Center President Irina Novozhilova appealed to the Prosecutor General's Office and the head of the Russian Investigative Committee to investigate the deaths of the nunnery dogs and punish the culprits.