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Abducted Lisichansk priest released from Ukrainian captivity

Ivan Melnikov, vice-president of the Russian branch of the International Committee for the Protection of Human Rights, said that Andrei's father was tortured in captivity

MOSCOW, December 14. /TASS/. An Orthodox priest, abducted by Ukraine’s security service SBU and accused of espionage, was released during the latest exchange of detainees between Russia and Ukraine, Deputy Chairman of the Russian branch of the International Committee of Human Rights Ivan Melnikov told TASS on Wednesday.

"Archpriest Andrey <…> was living in Severodonetsk. He was abducted by SBU on accusations of spying for Russia. He was tortured in an attempt to force him to testify against other people. Later, he was transferred to Dnepr from Lisichansk. Father Andrey was freed during the latest exchange of detainees," the human rights activist said.

In his words, it was not the only case of persecution of Orthodox priests in Ukraine, as thousands of them are now being mistreated and discriminated on Kiev-controlled areas.

"Although they have no relation to clashes between political forces in Moscow and Kiev, many of them are captured and accused of various crimes against the state," Melnikov said.

The priest was presumably captured after telling a local official in a private conversation that the Slavic peoples need to unite, Russian Investigative Committee chief Alexander Bastrykin said. Later, the man was baselessly accused of informing Russian troops about positions held by the armed forces of Ukraine.