2011-12-30 13:00:00

True motives for Father Yefrem's arrest is struggle against Athos independence and Russian influence there, head of the Vatopedi Friends Society believes

Moscow, December 30, Interfax - Head of the Foundation Society of the Vatopedi Monastery Friends, member of the Public Chamber of the Russian Federation Sergey Rudov voiced his version of Vatopedi Rector Archimandrite Yefrem's judicial persecutions.

"We believe there are two main reasons. The first one is the old line of the European Union as it demands that Greece makes it out with Athos and opens the borders, eliminate separate visa regimen and governing of the Kinot on the Holy Mount Athos. And the second reason, I think is the growing influence of Russians on Athos," NTV channel quoted Rudov as saying.

He believes the case against the priest is incredible "in its absurdity."

"In the early 20th century a lot of property in Greece belonged to the Church and monasteries. But in 1920-1923 when Greeks started moving from Turkey to their historical Motherland, monasteries gave much of their land to people. Even according to estimations made by unfriendly to Vatopedi people, the land it gave to the state now costs not less than eight million Euro," Rudov said in his interview with the Komsomolskaya Pravda daily.

He has recently been to Greece and met with Father Yefrem. The foundation head said that he "is a very sick man."

"Staying in cold Russia was a serious trial for him. And when he visited Patriarch Ilia in Georgia, he wasn't far from dying. Father Yefrem needs constant medical attention. He was questioned for 30 hours in Greece. And they told him during questioning: you've been to Russia, you talked to Putin, Medvedev, but they won't help you," Rudov said.

Father Ephrem was accompanying the Belt of the Virgin Mary in Russia for more than one month in fall. Approximately three million believers worshiped the holy object from Athos in that period.

According to earlier reports, a Greek court has arrested Archimandrite Yefrem in connection with the large-scale investigation into real estate deals between the Vatopedi Monastery and the Greek state, which was initiated back in 2008.