Dissident Russian cleric Yakunin dies at 80

AP News
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Posted: Dec 30, 2014 8:22 AM

MOSCOW (AP) — Gleb Yakunin, a dissident Russian Orthodox priest who was defrocked and later excommunicated, has died at age 80.

His widow, Iraida, told The Associated Press on Tuesday that he died Dec. 25 from complications of Lou Gehrig's disease.

Yakunin, who denounced persecution of religious believers, served several years in prison in the 1980s and angered the church by accusing its top officials of having collaborated with the KGB during Soviet times, when the church was closely watched by the officially atheist state.

He was defrocked in 1993 for ignoring a ban on priests running for elections in the post-Soviet Russian parliament, where he served for two years. Four years later, he was excommunicated for unspecified reasons.

Along with his widow, three children survive.