Authorities in Russia’s Far East have opened a criminal case against a local teen over a TikTok video that shows him lighting a cigarette with a candle inside a church, a move they qualified as a violation of Russia’s law against insulting religious feelings.
Investigators in the Zabaikalsky region said Friday that the unnamed 18-year-old was caught in July “demonstrably” lighting a cigarette on an altar candle at a Russian Orthodox church in the city of Chita.
The chita.ru news website on July 26 published a video of the teenager walking into the cathedral and using the flame of a lit candle on the altar to light a cigarette. A Bongo Cat version of the Billie Eilish hit “Bad Guy” is playing in the background.
If found guilty, the TikToker faces up to three years in jail.
The Chita diocese of the Russian Orthodox Church, however, said that it would not like to see the young perpetrator behind bars.
“I’ve met both himself and his guardians. The young man expressed sincere regret for his actions,” the diocese’s head, Metropolitan Dimitry, said.
“Therefore, the Chita diocese intends to ask the investigation to show mercy,” he told chita.ru.
Russian Troops Detained for Washing Shoes in Holy Water
A pair of Russian soldiers have been detained on charges of offending religious believers after they washed their shoes in holy water, Interfax reported Thursday.
In a video that went viral this weekend, two young men can be seen laughing as they wash their shoes at a chapel next to the Cathedral of Christ the Savior in Russia’s westernmost exclave of Kaliningrad.
“This is holy water for them while we wash our feet, for real,” one of the several men who appear in the video can be heard saying.
Military investigators opened a criminal case into insulting religious beliefs against a Russian Navy contract soldier and a conscript following the incident, Interfax cited an unnamed source as saying.
The two Baltic Fleet soldiers hailing from Russia’s ethnically diverse Muslim-majority republic of Dagestan were reportedly detained Monday.
The soldiers could spend up to a year in jail on the charges.
Prosecutors have launched an inquiry into extremism, according to Interfax.
The Kaliningrad diocese of the Russian Orthodox Church called the foot-washing video “unpleasant” and welcomed a filmed apology posted by one of the culprits.
“We hope that other participants in the incident will follow his example and repent publicly,” it said in a statement.
The diocese added that it temporarily turned off the chapel’s water for planned renovations.
Russia criminalized insulting the feelings of religious believers in 2013 after anti-Kremlin group Pussy Riot performed a “punk prayer” at a central Moscow cathedral, calling on the Virgin Mary to banish President Vladimir Putin.