2011-12-29 18:05:00

Russian Orthodox rise in defense of arrested Vatopedi monk

Moscow, December 29, Interfax - The recent arrest in Greece of Archimandrite Ephrem, superior of the Mount Athos Vatopedi Monastery, on suspicion of fraud and embezzlement has caused a stir in Russia's Orthodox community, which set up a committee on Thursday to campaign for his acquittal.

The creation of the committee in Ephrem's defense, called Defend Mt. Athos, was the result of a meeting of a group working for the abbot's acquittal, the Slavic Alphabet and Culture International Foundation told Interfax. The meeting was held at the foundation's headquarters in Moscow.

The committee plans measures to draw public attention to Ephrem's case and to alleged moves by the Greek government to infringe on the rights of Mt. Athos monks, the foundation said.

The measures would include seeking an international legal inquiry into Ephraim's charges and asking the Russian government to "formulate its position on this matter."

The committee is also going to take part in planned protest demonstrations outside the Greek Embassy in Moscow on Friday and Saturday.

The committee represents, besides the Slavic Alphabet and Culture International Foundation, the Council of Orthodox Public Organizations, the March against Corruption group, the Night Wolves motorcycle club, the Union of Orthodox Fraternities, the Faith and Valor foundation for war veterans, and one more war veterans' organization, Gallantry.