Russia requests control of St Alexander Nevsky
THE Russian President, Vladimir Putin, has written to the Israeli Prime Minister, Naftali Bennett, requesting that control of the Church of St Alexander Nevsky, Jerusalem, be transferred to Moscow, as the previous Israeli government had promised, media sources in Israel report. The church, also known as the Alexander Courtyard, which is in the Christian quarter of the Old City, was due to be handed over to Russia two years ago as part of a deal to secure the release of an Israeli American, Naama Issachar, who had been detained in Russia on drug charges. The Orthodox Palestine Society of the Holy Land, which had owned the site until that point, sued, however, arguing that the transfer of ownership was political. Last month, a district judge in Jerusalem halted the process, ruling that, because it was a diplomatic matter, it should be decided by Mr Bennett. President Putin’s letter was received on Sunday, shortly after the foreign ministry in Moscow criticised the Israeli Foreign Minister for accusing Russia of war crimes in Ukraine.
Man charged with murder of Coptic Orthodox priest
A MAN in Egypt was charged on Thursday of last week with the murder of a Coptic Orthodox priest last month, and an investigation has been opened by Egyptian prosecutors, The National reports. The victim, Archpriest Arsanious Wadid, was on a church youth outing on the promenade in Alexandria when he was approached by a man who asked him for assistance before stabbing him in the neck (News, 14 April). The attacker attempted to flee the scene, but was apprehended by witnesses. Prosecutors have not identified the accused. Regional media have described the man charged as a 60-year-old Muslim previously pardoned for a terrorist offence.
Pastor given five-day release from prison over Easter
THE Iranian pastor Yousef Nadarkhani was granted temporary leave from prison for five days on Wednesday of last week, and spent time at home with his family, Christian Solidarity Worldwide reports. It was unclear why he had been released, the charity said. Mr Nadarkhani is currently serving a six-year sentence, reduced from ten years, on charges of “acting against national security” by “promoting Zionist Christianity” (News, 11 May 2018). He was first arrested in the city of Rasht, north Iran, in 2009, and sentenced to death after refusing to convert to Islam. He was released in 2012 (News, 14 September 2012), re-arrested in 2016 (News, 29 July 2016), then released on bail, before being arrested again two years later. The founder-president of CSW, Mervyn Thomas, said: “We urge the Iranian authorities to go one step further and release this innocent man, so that he can enjoy his freedom without fear of harassment or re-arrest.”