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Covid-19-Denying Priest Seizes Control of Russian Monastery with the Help of Armed Militia

Father Sergei Romanov, a controversial, ultra-conservative Russian priest, has taken control of the Sredneuralsk convent outside the city of Yekaterinburg and challenged authorities to force him out.

Romanov,  a former policeman who reportedly spent 13 years in a prison colony for murder before repenting and dedicating his life to religion, has been very vocal about the social distancing measures taken in Russia in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic, accusing church leaders of “working with the forerunners of the Antichrist” by closing churches. Because of his controversial rhetoric, the Russian Orthodox church suspended Romanov and prevented him from preaching, and in May he was forbidden to wear a cross, after he continued to encourage people to disobey public health orders. Last Tuesday, he entered the Sredneuralsk convent, which he helped found in the early 2000’s, and seized control with the help of several armed militiamen.

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