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Relics of Orthodox Saints Stolen From St. Pete Cathedral

Church of St. Catherine the Great Martyr

Relics of several prominent Russian Orthodox saints were stolen from a St. Petersburg cathedral along with gold and silver jewelry, regional police said Wednesday.

The relics were stolen Tuesday night from the Church of St. Catherine the Great Martyr along with a communion chalice and five neck crosses, the police said in a statement.

The relics were of Prince Alexander Nevsky, Saint Nicholas the miracleworker, and Pyotr and Fevronia, Interfax reported, citing the police.

The robber climbed through a window and broke into the cabinet of the church's chief priest, taking the chalice and the crosses, the police statement said. The relics had been kept in the reliquary icon, which was wrenched apart, it said.

Police opened a criminal investigation on theft charges, which carry a maximum sentence of six years in prison in this particular case.

Police estimated the damage, not counting the relics, at 350,000 rubles ($11,000). 

Oleg Tairov, vice president of the Appraisers Guild with the International Confederation of Antiques and Art Dealers, said the relics have no retail value, only historical value. He suggested that the relics were stolen for a collector or as an “act of revenge” for the Pussy Riot verdict.

Three female punk rockers were sentenced to two years in prison on Aug. 17 on charges of hooliganism motivated by religious hatred over a February performance denouncing Patriarch Kirill and President Vladimir Putin at Moscow's Christ the Savior Cathedral. 

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