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A Russian Orthodox bishop, who was expelled from Holy orders
A Russian Orthodox bishop, who was expelled from Holy orders on Friday and barred from giving services for provoking a schism, has appealed the decision with a church court, a church official said on Monday.

The dispute could evolve into the first split in the Russian Orthodox Church, which has seen a major resurgence after decades of atheism under Soviet rule.

Bishop Diomid, head of the diocese on the sparsely populated Chukotka Peninsula in Russia's extreme northeast, refused to repent, which was a condition laid down by the Russian Orthodox Church (ROC) to suspend his defrocking, and held a service on Sunday.

"Bishop Diomid does not agree with the decision made by the Church's eparchial council, he has lodged a complaint with a church court," a church official in Chukotka said. "The bishop intends to address [a court session] himself."

Diomid criticized the Church for backing the current government's "anti-people" policies and contacts with other faiths. In a letter published in a leading newspaper, he also slammed the Group of Eight major industrialized nations as a body of global Masonry, designed to pave the way for the arrival of a single global leader, or antichrist. The bishop also called for an end to tax payer identification numbers, modern passports and cell phones.

In a resolution, the ROC's eparchial council denied the accusations saying the Church has always expressed its concerns about negative social incidents, adding that Diomid's calls for rejecting contacts with other religious groups were a display of sectarian ideology and schism.

Diomid has found support among a small group of Russian Orthodox clerics, who were also barred from holding services, and worshippers.

His supporters rallied in Moscow last week demanding Patriarch Alexy's II resignation. They beat up several journalists with icons and clashed with Kremlin-backed youth group activists, who condemned Diomid.

"This is an outrageous defiance of the integrity of the Russian Church," Father Vladimir Vigilynsky, spokesman for the Moscow Patriarchy, told Kommersant daily on Sunday commenting on Diomid's move.

But he said the bishop still had time to repent before the Holy Synod gathers in mid July.

Speaking at a church service in Anadyr, the capital of Chukotka, on Sunday, Bishop Diomid said he would not repent as he did not believe he was guilty.


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