* August 6, 2013, 2:57 PM CET
Russian Church Critic and Pussy Riot Supporter Killed
ByLukas I. Alpert
PHOTO: A member of the female punk
band “Pussy Riot”, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, looks out from a holding cell as she
attends a court hearing to appeal for parole at the Supreme Court of Mordovia in
Saransk, Russia, in July. Pavel Adelgeim was a supporter of the band.
MOSCOW—An outspoken Russian Orthodox priest who had been critical of the
church hierarchy and had voiced support for the jailed feminist punk group Pussy
Riot has been stabbed to death in his home, police said.
Pavel Adelgeim, 75 years old, was found dead late Monday from several stab
wounds in a small town outside the northwestern city of Pskov, which sits near
Russia’s border with Estonia.
Russia’s Investigative Committee said a 27-year-old man found inside the
priest’s home stabbed himself in the chest as police tried to detain him. He was
hospitalized in serious condition and had to be placed on life support, so he
hasn’t yet been questioned.
Investigators offered no theories as to motive, but local lawmaker Lev
Shlosberg told TV Rain that the man appeared to be mentally ill and Mr. Adelgeim
and his wife had welcomed him into their home for a few days at the request of a
friend who thought the priest could help.
“He is a mentally ill person, and maybe his acquaintances hoped Father
Pavel’s word would cure his illness,” Mr. Shlossberg was quoted as saying.
Mr. Abdelgeim had been a religious dissident during the Soviet Union and had
been jailed for speaking out against the Soviet regime, according to a biography
posted on his blog. While in prison, he lost his right leg. In recent years, he
became a vocal critic of the Russian Orthodox Church’s leadership through
newspaper articles and through his blog.
Last year, he came out in support of the punk group Pussy Riot as three of
its members faced trial on hooliganism charges for staging a controversial
performance inside Moscow’s largest cathedral criticizing the church’s ties to
The stunt infuriated the church’s leadership, but Mr. Abdelgeim was one of
hundreds of prominent Russians who wrote a letter to Russia’s most powerful
religious figure, Patriarch Kirill, asking for mercy.
The three women were later convicted and sent to jail for two years, although
one was later freed on appeal. In response, Mr. Abdelgeim unleashed a torrent of
criticism against the church on his blog.
“The women have unmasked the lie of the Russian Orthodox Church and its
unnatural bond with the Russian Federation,” he wrote in one entry.
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