Coronavirus latest: COVID-19 denying Russian priest seizes woman’s monastery | World | News

Father Sergei Romanov took control of Sredneuralsk convent outside the city of Yekaterinburg on Tuesday. According to the BBC, the mother superior and several nuns have left and armed guards now patrol the site. The priest said if authorities want him to leave, they “will have to storm the monastery”.

It is understood police visited the site on Wednesday but made no arrests.

Mr Romanov was barred from preaching in April.

He was then stripped of his right to wear the cross in May after he encouraged the disobeying of public health orders.

He helped found the monastery in the early 2000s.

The Church organised an ecclesiastical court but was told by the cleric his conscience was clear on Monday.

He told them they would have to kick him out of Sredneuralsk monastery by force.

The next day, he seized control of the site.

Some reports suggest the armed guards are veterans of the Ukraine conflict.

READ MORE: China-Russia warning: Putin and Xi ‘exploiting’ COVID-19 pandemic

Mr Romanov faces another ecclesiastical court on June 26 and the diocese urged him to use the time before the date “for correction and repentance”.

Russia has had over 561,000 confirmed cases of coronavirus.

At the time of writing, there have been 7,660 confirmed deaths.

On Thursday, the Federal Service for Surveillance in Healthcare revealed almost 500 Russian doctors had died from coronavirus.

Alla Samoylova, the head of the service said in a video-conference: “As of today, we say the spread of the virus is not over yet. More than half a million people in Russia are ill, over 7,500 have died, and 489 of them are medical workers.

“Unfortunately, we have lost almost 500 of our colleagues.”

Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin tested positive for coronavirus but has since recovered and resumed his duties.

Mr Mishustin said on Monday, the situation in the country was “gradually improving.”

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