2021-01-12 10:00:00

Arrested ex-schema-monk Sergy goes on dry hunger strike - Public Monitoring Commission

Moscow, January 12, Interfax - Former schema-monk Sergy (Nikolay Romanov), arrested on charges of inciting suicide, has gone on a dry hunger strike in protest.

"He stopped eating on December 29 and officially announced his dry hunger strike on January 5. He drafted a notification and handed it over to the director of the pre-trial detention facility No.7, where he is currently being held," Public Monitoring Commission member Eva Merkachyova told Interfax.

The former schema-monk said in his notification that he strongly disagrees with the measure of restraint imposed on him and is planning to be on a dry hunger strike until he is released, she said. He told members of the Public Monitoring Commission that he only uses water to wet his lips.

"He said that he already has experience of a hunger strike. Visually, he looks well so far. He said that he has already lost seven kilograms, but he has not complained about his health," Merkachyova said.

The Basmanny District Court of Moscow earlier sanctioned Romanov's arrest until February 28.

He was placed at the pre-trial detention facility No.7 of the Moscow branch of the Federal Penitentiary Service. He was given the Bible, the Book of Psalms, and a prayer book at the detention facility.

The former schema-monk has been charged with several criminal offenses such as inducement to suicide, violation of the right to freedom of conscience and religion and arbitrariness.

According to the Russian Investigative Committee, Romanov publically urged at least ten nuns residing in the convent he occupied to kill themselves.

"Subsequently, while being aware that his calls may be perceived by an inexplicitly extensive audience and result in consequences dangerous to the public, [he] posted a video recording of his speech containing the signs of inducing believers to commit suicide under the pretense of the religious ideology of Christianity on the Internet," the Investigative Committee said.

The former schema-monk denied any wrongdoing.

Former schema-monk Sergy, who was earlier stripped of his religious orders for violating his priestly oath, monastic vows, and several apostolic rules and church canons, was excommunicated by the Church on September 10, 2020. He has repeatedly said that he was not going to leave the Sredneuralsk convent.