Feast of the Protection of the Mother of God
Extraordinary Session of the Synod of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Autonomous Church
Archbishop Theodore of Borisovsk and Otradna, Chancellor of the Synod of Bishops
Bishop Irinarch of Tula and Bryansk
Attempt on the life of the President of the Synod of Bishops of the ROAC, Metropolitan Valentine
After the Divine Liturgy, at 12:00 noon, inside the Synodal headquarters building in Suzdal, and after the singing of “O Heavenly King,” the Synod of Bishops of the ROAC, with Archbishop Theodore of Borisovsk and Otradna, Chancellor of the Synod of Bishops, presiding, discussed the events of October 13th, 2005, which took place between the hours of 4:00 PM and 6:30 PM.
On September 30/October 13th, Vladyka returned to Suzdal after being treated at several clinics in Moscow and after visiting the city of Zheleznovodsk where, against doctors’ orders, he had traveled in order to provide support the besieged clergy and laity of St. Olga’s parish. That evening, Vladyka Metropolitan was not able to attend services in the cathedral due to feeling indisposed and because of the pain in his feet, which are afflicted with diabetic ulcers. The last to see him were Archbishop Theodore and subdeacon Ivan Savelev, at around 4:00 PM. After services, at approximately 6:40 PM, Archbishop Theodore, subdeacon Ivan Savelev and the diocesan bookkeeper, Philomena Valentinovna Vasilieva, came to the Synodal headquarters building, but were unable to enter, since the door was locked from within. It took some time, but they were finally able to get the door open. The door to the main hall was open, and from there they heard the sound of moaning. Vladyka Metropolitan was on his knees, propping himself up on a chair. There were signs of dried blood on his mouth, and the lower part of his face was swollen. From under his cassock, it could be seen that Vladyka Metropolitan’s legs were tied together with a lamp cord. The medical dressings had been torn off of his feet, and his mouth was taped shut with a piece of wide tape. This tape was brought by the criminals themselves. After untying Vladyka Metropolitan and removing the tape from his mouth, Archbishop Theodore called the police and for an ambulance. The police arrived quickly, however, it took about forty minutes for the doctors to arrive. With the help of the police, it was established that several insignificant valuables were missing: two chalices, three panaghias, and several icons. Of the other icons in the chapel dedicated to the Iveron icon of the Mother of God, in the Synodal hall, and of the valuables in the museum, nothing was touched. Upon inspection of the altar, it was apparent that the altar table had been defiled, the cloth covering the Gospel had been torn off, but the Holy Gifts were not touched. Lying on the bishop’s throne inside the altar there was a breaker bar, and in the annex to the altar, a sledge hammer and an axe were found, which had been used for breaking through the door leading to the altar. The door leading to the garage and car port was broken. The criminals placed the stolen items in a black bag, and took a key ring with keys to the Synodal building. The police officers immediately came up with their version of the story that this was a simple robbery. But this cannot be correct since very many valuable items were left behind. Do thieves intent on robbing a place take wide tape along? Why would thieves need to tear the dressings off of the Metropolitan’s feet, wrap him up in a carpet and beat his sore feet? All of these things point to the fact that robbery was not their true goal. If this were just a simple burglary, it is more probable that the robbers would grab as many valuables as they could, and get out as quickly as possible. If this were really the case, they could have quite easily grabbed some antique icons from the chapel and slipped out quietly. It should be noted that the police officers who were at the scene examined the building, the attached garage and the car port with extreme care. By the garage door, they found two more icons taken from the altar of the Iveron chapel, which had been left behind.
Bishop Ambrose, who said that Vladyka Metropolitan Valentine has been a thorn in the side of the Moscow Patriarchate and other organizations connected with it for a very long time, and that this theft was nothing but a smokescreen.
Bishop Irinarch, who said that this beating fits in perfectly well with the overall strategy of opposition to the Russian Orthodox Autonomous Church. In almost all of the churches of the Moscow Patriarchate, there is a systematic propaganda campaign directed against the ROAC and its First Hierarch, from the church of the Moscow Patriarchate, as well as from local and regional administration officials.
The members of the Synod of Bishops came to the conclusion that this incident is nothing other than an attempt on the life of the First Hierarch of the ROAC, Metropolitan Valentine, especially since in 2002, a whole storm of slanderous falsehoods was let loose, where in particular an end to the prohibition against murder was called for, meaning that Metropolitan Valentine should be destroyed, thereby bringing the existence of the ROAC to end and allowing the MP to increase the numbers of its clergy and faithful, especially since the ROAC had no one else capable of being such a strong leader as Metropolitan Valentine. In accordance with the statement of the editor of the regional newspaper, Prizyv, we cannot at all see this attempt on the life of Metropolitan Valentine as a mere burglary. We are convinced that this incident was done with the knowledge of high-placed officials, and has a politico-religious impetus behind it. This was no simple robbery; it was a logical next step, a natural progression in an ongoing and unending persecution against the ROAC and its First Hierarch.
As a result of the present situation, the Synod of Bishops of the ROAC has resolved to publish an encyclical addressed to the Archpastors, clergy, monastics and laity residing within the Russian Federation as well as abroad, asking them to appeal to their various embassies, consulates and human rights organizations for the defense of the rights of believers in Russia with the demand that the persecutions and lawlessness come to an end. Intolerance of the Russian Orthodox Autonomous Church is increasing, and there is open persecution against it with the aim of completely destroying it. If the Russian government holds to democratic ideals, it must honor as sacrosanct all democratic laws.