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Suspension of priestly duties imposed on priest who held memorial service for Navalny

The duties of the Russian Orthodox priest who led the memorial service for the late opposition leader Alexei Navalny in March have been suspended for three years, the Moscow Metropolis of the Russian Orthodox Church has announced.

In a statement posted on its website on Tuesday, the Metropolis did not mention the reason for the punishment, which prohibits priest Father Dmitry Safonov from giving blessings, wearing a cassock, and carrying the clerical cross until 2027.

Safonov was also transferred to another church in Moscow to serve as a chanter.

“At the end of the period of repentance, depending on compliance and obedience, a decision will be made on the possibility of further clerical service,” the diocese said in its statement.

On 26 March 2024, Safonov held a memorial service for Mr. Navalny that was attended by thousands of people. Mr. Alexei Navalny was Russia’s fiercest critic of President Vladimir Putin and died in February at the age of 47 in an Arctic prison.