2019-09-30 13:27:00

Adult adopted children of arrested Orenburg priest don't believe accusations against him

Orenburg, September 30, Interfax - The adopted children of Nikolay Stremsky, the head of the St. Trinity Simeon Charity in the Orenburg Region, have issued a statement in defense of their adoptive father, saying they do not believe the accusations made against him.

The text of the statement by the priest's adult children and his wife Galina Stremskaya has been posted on the charity organization's website.

"Lawlessness is taking place in front of our eyes. Our father has been arrested. He was charged with the most horrible crime a man can be charged with: molesting children. The case has been made secret and we only know that several underage girls who lived in our charity allegedly wrote a statement. We do not believe and cannot believe this accusation because we, [his] children, grew up in the Stremsky family," the statement said.

The authors said one of the underage girls who allegedly testified against Stremsky now denies it. "There are some statements by our underage younger sisters. But one of them, who allegedly made a report, has denied everything. She said she had been approached by people when she was outside her home in a rehabilitation center, a year ago, and those people, who showed police IDs, tried to bribe her, and pressured her to testify against her father. The other girl said the investigator had told her her father would not go to prison. We understand that someone of fabricating evidence of horrible slander, taking advantage of the children's' immaturity," it said.

The statement's authors believe the Stremsky couple, who adopted 75 children, "committed a real spiritual feat and [...] raised them as their own, in love, but in strict moral principles, according to Orthodox canons."

"They not only never beat us but we never heard a rude word. They are a true mother and father to us," the statement said.

They believe people in Saraktash and far beyond it "know and love" Stremsky, but "someone is envious of the fact that he managed to build a real Orthodox wonderland, with three beautiful churches, buildings for boys and girls, a school, a shelter for lonely old people, a museum, and even a hotel on the Saraktash land 30 years ago."

"His success really bothers some people," the authors of the statement said.

They additionally demanded that "the slanderers be held accountable" and asked the relevant agencies to "restore justice."

Stremsky, who is the head of the St. Trinity Simeon Charity, an Orthodox organization, is charged with rape, sexual abuse, and failure to fulfill responsibilities in bringing up an underage person in accordance with the Russian Criminal Code. Orenburg's Leninsky District Court on Wednesday placed him under arrest until November 12. His daughter and father-in-law, who are charged with illegal deprivation of a person's freedom, were also arrested.

According to the investigators, Stremsky "repeatedly molested six underage foster and adopted children, and raped one of them" in the time period of January-August 2018.

According to their statement, investigators additionally established that the priest's adopted daughter Yelena Stremskaya and her husband Viktor Scherbakov "locked up three underage victims in a garage, where they held them for a long time," in August 2018.

Seven underage and small children, who are under Stremsky's foster care or have been adopted by him, are identified as aggrieved parties in this criminal case.

Stremsky did not admit his guilt, saying that the children's testimony is false.

Metropolitan Veniamin of Orenburg and Saraktash issued a decree banning the priest from administering religious rites during the investigation.

The priest's case has been sent to the Central Administration of the Russian Investigative Committee.

One foster child and eight adopted children who lived in the priest's house have now been placed with the child protective services in the Orenburg Region.

In 2006, Stremsky, who is the head of the Russian family with the largest number of children, was presented with the Golden Heart international award, which was established by the Red Cross and the Russian government.

This is not the Stremsky's first run in with the law. In 2015, nine years after receiving the Golden Heart award, the priest gained press attention after he was detained for drunk driving and resisting arrest.