The white-bearded priest in a black cassock is one of the few Russian Orthodox priests to have spoken out against Moscow.
In a quavering voice, but without hesitation, he explains: “I’m afraid I am a bad priest. I’ve never been against all wars but I’ve always been against any land-grabbing, aggressive war.”
Ukraine “is an independent state and let them build their state as they see necessary,” he says at his home in the hamlet of Novo-Bely Kamen on the banks of the River Volga in the Kostroma region, a six-hour drive from Moscow.
Since Russia launched its military action on Feb. 24, only a handful of priests from the Russian Orthodox Church led by Moscow Patriarch Kirill — which counts some 150 million believers across the world — have spoken out openly against the Kremlin’s military campaign.