Monk arrested on Mount Athos

A man training to be a monk in a Mount Athos monastery visited by Russian President Vladimir Putin last month has been arrested over an $11 million fraud charge in the US, police said yesterday. Sergei Zholobetsky, a US citizen of Russian origin, had been living at the Aghios Panteleimon Monastery for the last five years and was arrested at the monastery on Tuesday. Putin visited the building as part of a one-day pilgrimage to Mount Athos, one of the world’s holiest sites for Orthodox Christians. Zholobetsky was wanted in the US in connection with a company he formed in New York which sold medical equipment. The 53-year-old suspect is alleged to have sold wheelchairs and beds to US hospitals but never delivered them. A warrant for his arrest was issued in 1996 and Interpol was also alerted. A Thessaloniki prosecutor yesterday remanded Zholobetsky in custody at the city’s Diavata jail. Judges are due to meet within the next few days to decide whether to extradite the novice monk to the US, as requested by authorities there.