17 Jan 2011

Russian Orthodox archbishop fires head of convent and other clergy allegedly involved in child abuse scandal

RIA Novosti - Russia November 13, 2010

Russian archbishop sacks clergy accused of alleged child abuse in convent

Moscow - The archbishop of Vladimir and Suzdal fired on Saturday the Mother Superior of St. Bogolyubsky Convent in the central Vladimir Region and other clergymen allegedly involved in a child abuse scandal.

Media reports earlier said the convent's nuns victimized teenagers from a local orphanage, beating them with belts, forcing them to bow innumerable times, eat spoonfuls of salt, as well as depriving them of food and sleep as "punishment." However, a human rights working group established by the Vladimir Region's governor has found no proof of these claims.

Archbishop Yevlogy ruled that no children or volunteer workers with children can reside on the convent's territory and that the boarding school will be transformed into an ordinary Orthodox school.

"The complicated situation around St. Bogolyubsky Convent was widely discussed in the church and secular circles receiving absolutely different and sometimes contradicting assessments," the archbishop said adding that measures were taken to resolve the conflict around the school and convent.

Father Innokenty, the secretary of the Vladimir and Suzdal eparchy, said the archbishop has taken the situation in the convent and the boarding school under serious control.

"We will seriously revise the internal developments in the convent and the boarding school, examine the situation and correct drawbacks if found," he said.

He added that the archbishop fired the clergy to make them feel responsibility for what was going on.

Russian Orthodox Church spokesman Vladimir Legoida said the archbishop's move will help avoid pressure on the children involved in the abuse row, and investigators of the case.

The convent was investigated a year ago after allegations of mistreatment, but no action was taken as the claims were not proven.

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Interfax - Russia November 13, 2010

Russian Orthodox Church carries out reshuffle after child abuse at convent

Vladimir, November 13, Interfax - A senior Russian Orthodox bishop has removed the mother superior and the spiritual mentor after claims surfaced of violent abuse on girls staying at the Bogolyubsky Monastery in Vladimir.

Archbishop Yevlogy of Vladimir and Suzdal fired Georgia, the convent's mother superior, insisting on a new appointment "in conformity with the charter of the Russian Orthodox Church and Russian legislation."

Spiritual counsellor Archimandrite Pyotr (Kucher) was pensioned off but allowed to keep living in the convent.

The main critic of the convent, Priest Vitaly Rysev, was dismissed as Suzdal District dean and principal of a boarding school though he remains chief priest of the Church of St. Michael the Archangel in Suzdal. The school is to be reorganized to become an ordinary rather than boarding school, under the same order.

The order also prescribed that the convent's leadership strictly comply with an earlier directive by the Archbishop prohibiting under-age children from living on the convent's premises, even if they are the children of convent workers.

The purpose of these measures is "to normalize the atmosphere" and address the "personal aspect" of the situation, the order said.

In autumn 2009, two girls ran away from the convent to complain about the brutal treatment they suffered whilst living there. The Russian Public Chamber and the Prosecutor General's Office responded by launching investigations.

One of the girls, Valentina Perova, said she had been falsely imprisoned. However, the Investigative Committee under the Prosecutor General's Office decided that her complaint did not provide sufficient grounds for criminal action.

In November 2009, an investigation commission of the Moscow Patriarchate made recommendations after it found pedagogical mistakes and "a series of fundamental mistakes in the organization of the life of children living at the convent."

The findings of a working group appointed by regional governor Nikolay Vinogradov led to the mother superior being stripped of guardianship of the orphans in December.

Archimandrite Pyotr also came into the limelight. Previously he had been dismissed from office on two occasions, had been punished by the Holy Synod and had joined the Old Believers, though after staying with the latter for one month on each occasion, he had rejoined the mainstream church.

In March this year, the Publishing Council of the Russian Orthodox Church put one of his books on a list of publications not recommended for dissemination in churches, monasteries or convents.

The Bogolyubsky Monastery became the scene of another scandal in autumn 2010 when criminal proceedings were launched after two other girls ran away from the orphanage and complained about physical abuse.

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Russian authorities investigate child abuse allegations in unlicensed orphanage in monastery, nun says it is persecution

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