Russian priest suspended over anti-Semitic pejorative
(JTA) — Russian church officials suspended a priest for using an anti-Semitic pejorative while baptizing a girl. The two-month ban on Andrey Evstigneeva was announced earlier this month on the website of the Diocese of Saratov, a city 450 miles southeast of Moscow.
It followed complaints by the family and the Russian Jewish Congress, the Interfax news agency reported Wednesday.
The girls’ parents said Evstigneeva used the Russian pejorative “zhidovskym,” or “kike,” in reference to the girl’s name. The girl’s mother is Jewish.
Church officials said Evstigneeva acknowledged the incident and insisted that “nothing untoward had happened.”
Evstigneeva’s behavior was “incompatible with clerical dignity and disrespectful of parish members,” the diocese’s statement read. “During the ban, you lose the right to wear the symbols of the church and teach believers, administer benedictions or hold services.”
Matvey Chlenov, deputy executive director of the Russian Jewish Congress, said the church’s “swift and public” response was a cause for optimism.
“Notably, Church officials took this case as serious and requiring in-depth investigation,” he said.