A Russian Orthodox priest is among thousands of Russians arrested after he spoke out against his country's invasion of Ukraine and shared anti-war images and a petition on his church's website.
The BBC reports that Father Ioann Burdin was arrested last week shortly after giving his sermon at a small church in the village of Karabanovo, approximately 75 kilometres northeast of Moscow.
He faces a charge of ‘discrediting the use of the Armed Forces,' something that had been put into law by the Russian government just a week prior.
Burdin appeared in court and was found guilty of the charge and was given what human rights watchdogs in the region described as a "hefty fine." The court fined him 35,000 Russian Rubles, or about $465 CAD. Those found guilty can face up to 15 years in prison.
The BBC reports that over 13,000 Russians had been arrested for protesting the war in just the first two weeks of the invasion. Over 4,600 people were arrested the same day as Father Burdin.
- 'The churches in Ukraine are trying to help all people with food and places to stay. We are doing everything we can'
- 500 Russian Christian leaders sign open letters denouncing war
A police report, as reported by Media Bona, alleges that the priest told parishioners of "Russian troops in Ukraine shelling the Ukrainian cities of Kyiv, Odesa, Kharkiv and killing citizens of Ukraine - brothers and sisters in Christ," the police report says.
In a statement posted on his church's website along with the petition, the priest says, “We Christians cannot stand idly by when a brother kills brother, a Christian kills a Christian.
“Let’s not repeat the crimes of those who hailed Hitler’s deeds on Sept 1, 1939.”
Despite the large crackdown on protests many Russians have continued to gather and use the internet to speak out against the war.