VITSEBSK, Belarus -- A Belarusian court has sentenced a Russian Orthodox priest to 5 1/2 years in prison on attempted pimping and human trafficking charges.
The Vitsebsk Regional court in eastern Belarus on November 13 found Nikolai Kireyev guilty of trying to take two Belarusian women to Russia to work as prostitutes and sentenced him the same day.
Kireyev, 39, told journalists minutes before the verdict and sentence were pronounced that he was not guilty.
The trial started on October 25 and was held behind closed doors.
Investigators have said that a 19-year-old woman from Tajikistan had already been convicted of involvement in the crime and is currently serving a five-year prison term in Belarus.
After Kireyev's arrest in August, the Russian Orthodox Church said he would be barred from serving in the church pending a resolution of the case.