Russian Church employee accused of treason over Ukraine

9th February 2015, Comments 0 comments

Russia has accused a former employee of the Moscow Patriarchate of state treason, the latest person suspected of committing a grave crime against the state amid tensions with the West over Ukraine.

Yevgeny Petrin, who had worked for the Moscow Patriarchate in Ukraine, was detained on charges of treason last June, a spokeswoman for Moscow's Lefortovo district court told AFP on Monday.

The court extended his arrest until April, spokeswoman Yulia Skotnikova added. She declined to release further details of the case.

A member of the Public Monitoring Commission, a human rights group that monitors detention centres, said that Petrin stands accused of committing state treason while working for the Moscow Patriarchate in Kiev.

"He is accused of cooperating with foreign agents while working for the Russian Orthodox Church in Ukraine," Eva Merkacheva, who has met Petrin in jail, told AFP.

In an eyebrow-raising twist, Petrin had until 2013 been an employee of the FSB security service, successor to the Soviet-era KGB, said Merkacheva, who is also a correspondent for the Moskovsky Komsomolets daily.

Petrin, who is his early 30s, is being held in Moscow's high-security Lefortovo prison, the same jail in which a mother of seven accused of state treason was briefly held last month, Merkacheva said.

Spokespeople for the Moscow Patriarchate in Russia and Ukraine declined to comment.

It emerged earlier this month that a Russian nuclear scientist had been charged with disclosing state secrets after publishing an article about explosives in a Czech journal. He faces up to four years in prison.

Last month, mother of seven Svetlana Davydova was accused of treason for calling the Ukrainian embassy with information on possible Russian troop movements. She faces up to 20 years in prison.

© 2015 AFP

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