The Zyuzinsky District Court of Moscow has placed a 20-year-old Tajik citizen under arrest for two months for extinguishing candles in an Orthodox church.

The Telegram channel of the Courts of General Jurisdiction of Moscow reports that Askar Butayev will remain in a pre-trial detention center at least until August 18, 2024, while the investigation is ongoing.

The press service of the Main Investigative Committee’s Office in Moscow says criminal proceedings have been instituted against Butayev under the provisions of Article 148 (4) of Russia’s Penal Code – violation of the right to freedom of conscience and religion with the use or threat of violence; n investigation is under way.

According to the investigation, Butayev entered the Church of St. Righteous Warrior Fyodor Ushakov in Moscow’s Southern Butovo district on June 18 and “publicly performed actions that showed blatant disrespect for society, intending to insult the religious feelings of believers.”

The press service reports that after being reprimanded by a female parishioner for his behavior, Butayev used violence against her.

A video recorded by parishioners and published by the Telegram channel Baza shows the young man walking around the church with a prayer mat and extinguishing candles.  He appeared unfazed by the fact that he was being filmed.

According to Baza, "Askar had arrived in the capital just a few days ago and was staying in a hostel near the church."

Under Article 148, Part 4, Butayev faces penalties ranging from a fine of up to 200,000 rubles, up to two years in correctional labor, or up to one year in prison.  

As a foreign citizen, Askar Butyaev also faces the possibility of deportation from Russia after serving his sentence.