Russian Church head writes to president over Ephraim

Ignoring a request by the Greek Ministry of Foreign Affairs for Russia to refrain from interfering in a Greek judicial matter, the head of the Russian Orthodox Church wrote to Greek President Karolos Papoulias on Thursday vehemently protesting the arrest earlier this week of Ephraim, the head monk of the Vatopedi Monastery on Mount Athos who is at the center of a controversial land-swap deal.

?It is my duty to convey our common concern to the chief of the Greek state and to request the release from custody of Archimandrite Ephraim,? Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia Cyril said in his letter.

The cleric also suggested that he was prepared to rally public support for Ephraim, saying ?in Russia, Belarus, Ukraine, Moldova and other countries… millions of believers are alarmed by [the detention of Ephraim].?

Meanwhile, rallies have been organized Friday and Saturday to protest Ephraim?s arrest in front of the Greek Embassy in Moscow.

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