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'Drunks' Gun Down Russian Priest

A woman pays her last respects to slain priest Daniil Sysoyev at a Moscow service in late November.
MOSCOW (Reuters) -- Drunken hooligans have shot dead the priest of a village church near Moscow, Russian media reported, the second murder of a Russian Orthodox priest in the Moscow region in the past month.

"Father Aleksandr [Filippov] was killed only for reproving those beasts who were relieving themselves in an entrance of an apartment house," the Interfax news agency quoted the priest's widow Yelena as saying.

The priest preaching at the Ascension of the Lord Church near the town of Podolsk died from a shot in the heart, she said. He left three teenage daughters.

Vesti-24 television channel showed the picture of the 39-year-old priest. Interfax said police had detained two local drunks suspected of killing him. Police and church officials could not be immediately reached for comment.

Last month, a masked gunman entered St. Thomas Church in southern Moscow and shot dead 34-year-old Russian Orthodox priest Daniil Sysoyev. He had earlier received death threats for converting Muslims to Christianity and for criticising Islam.

The Russian Orthodox Church has enjoyed a revival and official support since the end of militant state atheism after the Soviet Union's collapse in 1991.

But having dropped its totalitarian state ideology, modern Russia has also seen a surge in alcoholism and drug addiction, as well as a rise in ethnic tension.