Russian investigators have opened a criminal case into the alleged torture of children living at a monastery in central Russia that has been under the control of an excommunicated, coronavirus-denying priest since June.
Dozens of children live in the Sredneuralsk women’s monastery near Yekaterinburg, which was captured by its spiritual leader Father Sergei Romanov after he was banned from preaching over his refusal to follow coronavirus health guidelines. Media reports have detailed the alleged physical and psychological abuse of children at the monastery since it was founded in 2005.
The Sverdlovsk region Investigative Committee said Tuesday that it has opened a criminal case into the torture of children as well as into monastery officials’ negligence.
From 2004-2019, unidentified individuals “inflicted physical and mental suffering on seven children through systematic beatings and other violent acts” at the monastery, the Investigative Committee said.
It added that crimes against four children were the result of monastery officials’ failure to prevent these crimes.
Monastery officials have denied the reports of child abuse.
Father Sergei has been one of the loudest voices in the Russian Orthodox Church to speak out against coronavirus restrictions, calling the measures a “satanic plot” and alleging that the virus was manufactured to implant “surveillance chips” into the population. He was defrocked in July and an ecclesiastical court ruled to excommunicate him from the Church in September.
Russia Breaks Single-Day Record for Coronavirus Cases for 3rd Straight Day
Russia confirmed 13,634 new coronavirus cases Sunday, setting a record for new infections as authorities at the epicenter of the outbreak consider new restrictions to slow the spread of the disease.
Russia, which has the world’s fourth-highest number of infections at 1,298,718 cases, has seen its daily caseload double over the past month.
According to the tally compiled by the national coronavirus information center, a total of 22,579 Russians have died, with 149 fatalities confirmed Sunday. Monthly data published by Russia’s statistics agency suggests that the real number of fatalities is at least double that figure.
Moscow, the epicenter of Russia’s Covid-19 outbreak with 4,501 new cases, has seen a 53% rise in new infections over the past week.
Reports citing unnamed sources suggest that Moscow City Hall is considering closing night clubs, pubs and karaoke clubs to slow the spread of the virus.
“We need to cut down the number of people in the city, otherwise we’ll arrive at the same restrictions we’ve seen in spring,” an unnamed official told the RBC news website.
This spring, the city of 12.7 million had shut non-essential businesses and imposed strict self-isolation rules enforced by digital passes and a tracking app for infected individuals. Moscow lifted the restrictions in June ahead of a major military parade and a vote on constitutional changes that grant President Vladimir Putin the power to extend his rule into 2036.