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Tver Governor to Supervise Investigation into Murder of Priest

ICC Note:
This story shows that sometimes persecution comes not from governments or Muslim extremists, but from those who reject the gospel’s call to holiness. A Russian priest who opposed thieves and alcoholics burned to death in what looks like revenge from those he was preaching to.

TVER, December 4 (Itar-Tass) – Tver region governor Dmitry Zelenin said he will personally supervise the investigation into the murder of priest Andrei Nikolayev.

“If the villainous crime has indeed taken place, the perpetrators should be subjected to the toughest punishment, because even with all Christian humbleness, it cannot be forgiven,” Zelenin told reporters on Monday.

Reports said the priest had had a conflict with the persons who tried to rob the church, and that he had been repeatedly threatened.

“I asked police to investigate this tragedy most thoroughly, and assign the best specialist to the job,” the governor said.

Father Andrei and his three children burnt to death in their house overnight to December 2. As for the priest’s wife – Ksenia – her fate is unknown.

Law-enforcement bodies consider several versions of the incident. Under one of them, the fire broke out because of short-circuit in the house where many electric heaters were installed.

Under another version, the family was killed by the thieves who had tried to rob the Trinity Church in the village of Pryamukhino. Father Andrei went out each night to guard his church from thieves, so the wrongdoers set his house on fire in revenge.

Prosecutors in Russia’s Tver region have opened a criminal case over the death of Nikolayev family.

Russian Lutherans conveyed their condolences on the tragedy to the Russian Orthodox Church on Monday.

“On behalf of the entire Evangelical Lutheran Church and me personally, I express my heartfelt condolences to the relatives of the dead priestly martyrs,” ELC president Vladimir Pudov said in a message.

It said “under one of the versions – the incident is a household conflict and revenge by some residents of the village upon the “obstinate” priest, who categorically insisted on stopping abuse of alcohol in the village which is ruining itself with drinking.”

Lutherans regarded the tragedy as “suffering for Christ,” and the right cause. “The Martyrs of the newest history wash our Motherland with their blood, testifying to Truth, and their deeds flow them, bringing the unruly hearts to faith,” the Russian Lutherans said… [Go To Full Story]