Voices from Russia

Friday, 13 January 2012

Igumen Ephrem Will Remain in Custody


The acquittal of the Supreme Court of Greece (the Areopagus) in the case of Archimandrite Ephrem, the abbot of Vatopedi Monastery on Mount Athos, won’t result in his release from custody. On Thursday, a spokesman for the Russian Society of Friends of Vatopedi told Interfax-Religion, “This decision relates to the decision of the Court of Appeal of Rhodope, but not the Athens Court of Appeal, according to whose decision Elder Ephrem was taken into custody. The Areopagus acquittal’s another positive step in the development of the Vatopedi case, but it doesn’t cancel the order for the pre-trial detention of Archimandrite Ephrem”. Thus, our contact continued, “[Igumen Ephrem] remains behind bars and still needs our support”. The Areopagus overturned the verdict of the Court of Appeal of Rhodope imposing a ten-month prison (with a three-year grace period) on Fr Ephrem and two other people. The case opened at the Rhodope court, like the case in the Athens court, looked into the circumstances of real estate transactions between Vatopedi and the Greek state, will be reviewed by the Court of Appeal of Thrace.

As reported in December 2011, a Greek court ordered Fr Ephrem’s arrest in connection with an investigation of real estate transactions between Vatopedi and the Greek state in 2008. In late December, Patriarch Kirill Gundyaev of Moscow and all the Russias wrote a letter to Greek President Karolos Papoulias asking for Archimandrite Ephrem’s release from custody, expressing surprise at his pre-trial incarceration as “[Fr Ephrem] doesn’t pose a threat to society and repeatedly expressed his willingness to cooperate with the investigation”. Metropolitan Hilarion Alfeyev of Volokolamsk, the head of the MP DECR, described the arrest of Fr Ephrem as an attack on Athonite monasticism in particular and on Orthodoxy in general. Previously, influential Russian politicians, the MP, the RF MID, as well as the Foundation of St Andrew the First-Called voiced support for Igumen Ephrem. This was in recognition of the fact that Abba Ephrem was part of the delegation from Vatopedi Monastery that brought the Belt of the Most Holy Mother of God to Russia for a stay lasting from 20 October to 28 November, going to various cities throughout the country, where nearly 3 million people venerated the relic, including top political leaders.

12 January 2012




Blog at WordPress.com.

%d bloggers like this: