Church to probe ‘Gucci priest’ over Instagram photos

Church to probe 'Gucci priest' over Instagram photos
Vyacheslav Baskakov

A Russian priest who flaunted luxury items including Louis Vuitton bags and Gucci shoes on his Instagram account will face a disciplinary committee, an Orthodox Church spokesman said Monday.

Vyacheslav Baskakov deleted the images of himself posing in his frock with the designer goods after they were picked up by Russian media and shared online last week.

“Such actions are not acceptable. The Church requires modesty and temperance of its representatives,” Alexander Volkov, spokesman for Patriarch Kirill of Moscow, told AFP.

Volkov said the priest would face a disciplinary committee in the Tver region where he is based, north of the capital.

The spokesman stressed this was not a criminal probe and that the “vast majority of Russian Orthodox Church priests live very modestly”.

He did not give a date for any hearing nor comment on a likely punishment.

Baskakov is not the first Church representative to find himself in hot water over luxury goods.

Patriarch Kirill caused a stir when he wore what was identified as a Breguet watch that costs around 30,000 euros during a trip to Ukraine in 2009.

The Church on a separate occasion admitted it had doctored a photo of Kirill on its website to erase his watch, after internet users spotted the lavish timepiece was reflected on a polished table but was not present on his wrist.

Bloggers also found the patriarch was the owner of a luxury Moscow flat.

The Church’s wealth and political power has grown enormously since Vladimir Putin rose to the presidency, with the Russian government handing back much of the property confiscated during Soviet times.

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