Thu, 27 Feb 2020

MOSCOW -- A high-ranking Russian clergyman known for his outspoken social and political commentary and wavering support for the government has died of unknown causes.

Archpriest Vsevolod Chaplin, 51, died on January 26 while sitting on a bench at the Church of Theodore the Studite at the Nikitsky Gate in Moscow where he was the rector, the press service of the Moscow Patriarchate told Russian media.

For years, Chaplin was a supporter of Russian President Vladimir Putin and his administration's policies. Lately, however, Chaplin had made critical statements targeting the country's leadership. Most notable was his opposition to pension reform last year. In March, he took part in a rally against the government's social and economic policies.

"They accuse us of rocking the boat, but this boat is not sailing there," Chaplin said then.

He also called for replacing the "cynical" and "corrupt" elites in Russia and advocated for the Orthodox Church to have decision-making power in the country.

In society, he said "women with their defiant appearance and manners can provoke men to rape."

He called humanism a "satanic ideology," affirmed that the "state and shrines are more important than man," and said that the commandment against killing only applied "to a narrow circle of the righteous."

Chaplin also once was quoted as saying Russia's military operation in Syria was part of a "holy war," and called for the need to kill Russia's enemies in other countries.

Bestowing lavish gifts on the church's hierarchy "is a manifestation of love, which is completely natural," Chaplin said at a news conference in Stavropol on August 27, 2012.

In the Russian Orthodox Church, he rose to the position of chairman of the Synodal Department for the Interaction of the Church and Society, according to TASS.

On December 24, 2015, Chaplin was relieved of his post. He had criticized the church for the growing influence of the patriarch.

Chaplin was born on March 31, 1968, in Moscow. His father, Anatoly Chaplin, was a Soviet scientist.

In 1990, he graduated from the Moscow Theological Seminary and later from the Moscow Theological Academy.

Chaplin was ordained a deacon on April 21, 1991, and the following January was elevated to the priesthood.

He achieved the title of archpriest in 1999.

With reporting by TASS and Interfax

Copyright (c) 2018. RFE/RL, Inc. Republished with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave NW, Ste 400, Washington DC 20036

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