Belarus' top Orthodox Christian cleric urges Greek authorities to release monastery abbot
Patriarchal Exarch Filaret, head of the Russian Orthodox Church in Belarus, has appealed to the Greek authorities to release the abbot of the prestigious Vatopedi monastery on Mount Athos, Belarus News informs.
Abbot Ephraim, 56, who is accused of arranging land swaps between Vatopedi and the state which are thought to have cost the Greek government millions of euros, was jailed last month pending his trial on fraud and embezzlement charges.
In his appeal, Exarch Filaret condemns the arrest of the abbot as a "provocation and the manifestation of a hostile attitude to the Church in a country declared Orthodox Christian by its constitution."
The cleric argues that the accusations against the abbot are contested by many lawyers in Greece and raise doubts about the possibility of an impartial and democratic investigation of the case.
Abbot Ephraim visited Belarus in November last year, meeting with fellow clergymen, members of the House of Representatives and government officials. Exarch Filaret awarded the abbot with the St. Cyril of Turaw Order