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December 25, 2009

A Priest Fought Alcoholism…Alcoholics Killed Him!

Hallway where the murder took place

Fr Aleksandr was Shot in Front of his Wife and Three Daughters

24 December 2009
Rinat Nizamov

This brutal murder shocked the residents of sleepy rural Podolsk. On Tuesday evening, around 21.00, Orthodox priest Aleksandr Filippov returned home from Moscow from a meeting of the local clergy. At the entrance, he stumbled into a bunch of drunks. They warmed themselves and drank beer straight from the bottle. Then, one of the drunks unzipped and peed right at the priest’s apartment. Fr Alexander was furious and made a sharp remark. He pushed his way through them, came to his door, and knocked. When his wife Yelena opened the door, the thugs shot the priest in the back.

Yelena was crying as she spoke to us. “I just couldn’t understand what happened. My husband suddenly fell onto the wall, and I dragged him into the hall. Those who shot him immediately took off like the wind. For about five minutes, he was still breathing a little. Then, he died in my arms and right before our daughters. It turned out that the crooks got him right in the heart…”

Literally, within minutes, the cops were on the scene. Neighbours say that, at other times, the police didn’t respond and didn’t hustle the yobs out of the building. Yet, this time, such speed…

Natalia, a resident in the same wing (“02”) of the building, said, “We heard a commotion, and, a moment later, the terrible cries of our neighbour below.. It surprised us that the cops arrived so quickly”.

Looking at the painted fire extinguishers on the wall and the beer bottles scattered on the floor, I asked, “Do you often see drunks hanging out here?”

She sighed, “We’ve resigned ourselves to that. When it’s hot, the alkies and the teenagers hang out on the street and drink. As soon as it gets cold, they head for the entrances. We don’t have an intercom on our front door. It’s not a scandal to anybody, so, to keep out of harm’s way, we lay low in the evenings. You’d best look out or they’ll smash a bottle over your head. Fr Aleksandr had enough of it, so, he said something. He paid for that”.

Matushka Yelena Recognised the Murderer

That very same evening, the cops nicked the murderer. It was midnight when the cops brought 39-year-old local resident Oleg Shekhov to the Podolsk UVD (police station), where the grieving widow and her daughters were still giving their testimony to the detectives. When Shekhov passed by her, Matushka Yelena immediately recognised him as the murderer of her husband. At the homes of his friends, 35-year-old Vladimir Mitrofanov and 28-year-old Alexei Abramov, investigators found a Saiga shotgun and a IZh-79-9TM starter’s pistol converted to fire actual bullets. Shekhov used the pistol to shoot the priest.

The sobered-up perps said in justification that they were near Fr Aleksandr’s entrance to deal with the cohabitating girlfriend of one of them. They said that she was continually making life hard for them. They wanted a showdown with her, so, they packed a gun.

The detectives said to us, “After he shot [the priest], the suspect Shekhov picked up the spent cartridge case and fled the scene. By the bye, he’s already been tried for murder, but, he only did two years for it. Now, he faces up to 15 years in prison”.

He Healed Drunks

Yesterday, people spent the whole day praying for the soul of Fr Aleksandr in a little church in the village of Satino-Russkoye, 15 kilometres (9.32 miles) from Podolsk. The murdered priest was the rector here, in the church of the Ascension of our Lord. Two of the shaken parishioners, Yelena and Nadezhda, said to us, “Batiushka came to our village from the cathedral in Podolsk in 1996. Back then, it seemed impossible that we could restore the church. The Soviets had turned it into a warehouse for storing manure”.

Fr Aleksandr Filippov served the first liturgy here outdoors in the open air because it was impossible to hold a service inside the church. He pledged that he would restore the church building even though he had no experience in construction and restoration.

The locals remembered, “He just walked through the village, he asked the assembled men what to do. They restored the bell tower, and, after that, the church itself. Many of our men, who used to be drunken sots before, went to Fr Aleksandr, now, they carry icons. Would you believe it? On Christmas and Easter, the peasants didn’t guzzle vodka, but, they went to services to celebrate!”

Since then, every Saturday, Fr Aleksandr began to meet with those who couldn’t defeat drunkenness. Candles burned continually before the icons of the martyr St Boniface and the Mother of God “The Inexhaustible Cup”, before which supplicants traditionally pray for deliverance from addictions. People believed in this priest and it helped.

Wiping away tears, Fr Oleg, the Dean of the Podolsk district, told our KP correspondent, “Every week, he went to a drug treatment clinic a few kilometres from his church. He talked with the patients, and he healed them. He wanted to build a small chapel and go more often to visit the sick, for he believed in their healing. However, in the end, it turned out that he himself suffered from drunken louts”.

With the approval of His Holiness Patriarch Kirill, Fr Aleksandr Filippov shall be buried near his church. He shall lie near his mother and brother, who died several years ago.

His youngest daughter, Sashenka, was born sickly and is in need of regular treatment by doctors. The Patriarchate promised us that it would not leave the orphaned family of Fr Aleksandr in the lurch.


See also: Orthodox Priest Killed in Moscow Region