The Russian Orthodox Church has suspended a priest for incendiary comments he made during a send-off for dozens of fighters preparing to join pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine, the Big News Network website reports today (March 28, 2015).
Local diocese authorities in the Urals city of Yekaterinburg said in a March 26 statement that the priest, Vladimir Zaitsev, broke with the church's position on the bloody conflict in Ukraine by encouraging the Russian fighters to battle Ukrainian forces he described as "fascist scum."
They said the March 11 comments -- which were captured on film -- should not be considered a "blessing for carrying out a fratricidal war."
They added that a decision on whether to reinstate Zaitsev will be made after the Greek Orthodox Easter (April 12). More than 6,000 people have been killed since the Ukrainian conflict began in April 2014, as Russian aggression continues in Ukraine in an effort to take control of its territory.