LAOS chief says Ephraim detention has ruined Russia ties

Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) leader Giorgos Karatzaferis believes the decision to remand in custody Ephraim, the monk embroiled in the Vatopedi Monastery land swap, has caused irreparable damage to Greece?s relations with Russia.

Speaking to Skai TV on Friday, the head of the junior partner in Greece?s coalition government, said that Ephrain?s detention in Korydallos Prison this week dealt a serious blow to Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin.

?We have opened a great wound and lost Russia for ever,? said Karatzaferis, who suggested that PASOK leader George Papandreou had been behind the decision to detain Ephraim.

He said that the action against the Vatopedi abbot was ?a trap for Putin so that the Russian prime minister?s standing with his electoral base is damaged.?

Ahead of recent disputed parliamentary elections in Russia, Ephraim visited the country with Virgin Mary?s belt, which was put on display for the first time and seen by tens of thousands of Russians.

The Russian Orthodox Church, which has close ties with Putin, has heavily criticized the decision to take action against Ephraim, prompting the Greek Foreign Ministry to ask outsiders not to attempt to interfere in its justice system.

In his interview, Karatzaferis said he would quit the interim government if the two senior partners, PASOK and New Democracy, did not show ?they are taking things seriously.?

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