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Russian Priest Known For Controversial Statements Dies At 69

Russian Orthodox Archpriest Dmitry Smirnov
Russian Orthodox Archpriest Dmitry Smirnov

MOSCOW -- Russian Archpriest Dmitry Smirnov, known for his controversial public statements that led to public outcry and criticism, has died at the age of 69.

Vasily Rulinsky, the press secretary of the Russian Orthodox Church, announced the death on October 21. He did not mention the cause.

Smirnov was known for his controversial positions, including his call to bless nuclear weapons, which he described as the "salvation of the Russian people and its culture."

He also called on believers to give all their earnings to the Russian Orthodox church and advised single Russian women to "look for husbands in Africa."

In February, he called women living together with their partners "unpaid prostitutes."

In May, Smirnov was hospitalized with COVID-19. A week before that, he called the pandemic "an extremely useful phenomenon," because, he said, people started "caring more about their loved ones and better understand Christian values."

In August, following public criticism of his statements, Smirnov was removed from the position of Chairman of the Russian Orthodox Patriarch’s Commission on the Family, becoming its Honorable Chairman instead.