Russian Orthodox priest shot dead in Moscow church

AP News
Posted: Nov 20, 2009 5:24 AM

A gunman killed a Russian Orthodox priest in his Moscow church and seriously wounded the reverend's assistant, officials said Friday.

An unidentified attacker shot Rev. Daniil Sysoyev at point-blank range late Thursday, prosecutors said. Sysoyev died of wounds in an ambulance after the attack, authorities said. Sysoyev's assistant remained hospitalized in serious condition.

Rev. Vladimir Vigilyansky, a spokesman for the Moscow Patriarchy, said the killing could have been linked to Sysoyev's missionary activities but wouldn't elaborate. Some of Sysoyev's friends and parishioners said on Russian NTV television that he had received threats but wouldn't give further details.

Russian Orthodox Church Patriarch Kirill offered his condolences to Sysoyev's family and voiced hope that the crime will not go unpunished.

"The killing of priest in a church is a challenge to the Divine Law and desecration of a sacred place," he said in a statement.