Yekaterinburg, June 18, Interfax -The Russian Federal Security Service's (FSB) Sverdlovsk Region branch has denied media reports that its officers took part in developments on the premises of the Sredneuralsk women's monastery.
"Employees of the Russian FSB's branch for the Sverdlovsk Region did not take part in the developments on the premises of the Sredneuralsk women's monastery. The information being circulated on this subject is not accurate," the press service of the regional FSB department said.
According to earlier reports, Father Sergy (Romanov) said in a video message published on the VKontakte social network on Wednesday that "representatives of public security, police, the Prosecutor's Office, the FSB came" to the Sredneuralsk women's monastery and "saw for themselves that everything is quiet in the monastery."
The press service of the FSB's regional branch did not confirm this information to Interfax.
Local Interior Ministry spokesman Valery Gorelykh, in turn, said that policemen had visited the monastery after receiving information about a possible public order offence there, but this information was not confirmed.
As reported, a public sermon in which priest Sergy (Romanov) dismisses the Covid-19 pandemic as a myth and calls for disobedience to the senior clergy and authorities earlier drew outcry on social networks and in the media. Father Sergy also cursed those who have temporarily closed churches during the pandemic and warned of the creation of "Satan's electronic camp."
Another video message from Father Sergy was published later, in which he calls for reopening churches and warns of the danger of chipization, which would allegedly prove to be fatal for the majority.
In response, the Yekaterinburg Diocese barred the priest from conducting religious services and deprived him of the right to wear a pectoral cross.
A few days ago, the counter-extremism center of the Russian Interior Ministry's branch for the Sverdlovsk Region accused the priest of an administrative offence in the form of "distributing knowingly false socially important information in the media and on information and telecommunications networks under the guise of authentic information." The priest may face a fine of 30,000 rubles to 100,000 rubles if found guilty.
A court in Verkhnyaya Pyshma will hear his case on June 23.
Meanwhile, the Yekaterinburg Diocese's court has scheduled its next session dealing with Father Sergy's conduct for June 26.