Voices from Russia

Thursday, 19 November 2009

Well-Known Missionary Priest, Fr Daniil Sysoev, Murdered in Moscow

Fr Daniil Sysoev (1974-2009), well-known missionary, murdered by unknown assailants in Moscow on the evening of 19/20 November 2009. Vechnaya yemu pamyat!

Sources in the Moscow police told Interfax that an unknown perpetrator killed Fr Daniil Sysoev, the well-known rector of the parish of St Thomas the Apostle on Proletarsky Prospekt in the Kantemirov district. According to our informant, the perps shot Fr Daniil in the head and chest and seriously wounded his assistant, Vladimir Strelbitsky. A police expert told Interfax, “I don’t think that any other priest in Moscow was murdered with an automatic weapon”. The police have officially reported this murder to higher authorities.

Earlier, Viktor Kupriyanchuk, the starosta of St Thomas parish, told our Interfax-Religion correspondent “details of the tragedy. Fr Daniil was shot in the head and is in serious condition in one of the city hospitals”. Mr Kupriyanchuk also said that the assailant wore a mask.

The most probable reason for the murder of Fr Daniil was his missionary activities amongst the non-Orthodox, a police source told Interfax. “Recently, he received numerous death threats from extremist organisations. On several occasions, Fr Daniil Sysoev appealed to the Federal Security Service”, our source said. According to him, Fr Daniil said that he received phone calls from unknown people, and that he received an intimidating e-mail with the threat “to cut his guts out”. “Rev Sysoev received the latest threat in early October. A stranger phoned him and said that he was sentenced to death”, our source said.

An articulate theologian, Fr Daniil Sysoev engaged in constant debate with extremist Muslims. The first threats against his life came some four years ago, after he held a public debate with Vyacheslav Polosin, a former Orthodox priest who converted to Islam. Fr Daniil is the author of Marriage to a Muslim (Брак с мусульманином) and The Orthodox Response to Islam (Православный ответ исламу).

On the other hand, another police source told Interfax that so-called Slavic Neo-pagans could have killed the priest. The source said the investigators are still checking all the various scenarios of the murder, but, we know this much definitively… there weren’t any abandoned weapons at the crime scene. “Slavic Neo-pagans aren’t professional hit-men, so, every gun is important to them”, he said. Our source said that the membership of Slavic Neo-pagan groups is primarily made up of young people, mostly unbelievers. He also reminded us that Slavic Neo-pagans had earlier exploded a bomb in a church, also on the south side of Moscow.

Professor Kirill Frolov, the head of the Association of Orthodox Experts and a friend of Fr Daniil, told Interfax-Religion that Fr Daniil received many death threats at his address over an extended period. “Fr Daniil, who was known for his active missionary work over the past two or three years, periodically received e-mails saying that if he continued his theological debate with Islam, they would treat him as an infidel”, he told us. In his opinion, there is reason to believe that Fr Daniel followed his usual routine. Prof Frolov believes, “He liked to stay up late at night… that is when he wrote his theological works and articles. The assailant chose a moment when the priest was nodding off”.

Fr Daniel was 35 years old. His wife and three children survive him.

Interfax does not have official confirmation of the above information.

20 November 2009





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