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Suspected Orthodox Church Arsonist Detained in Moscow

A 35-year-old suspect has been detained for allegedly setting fire to an Orthodox church in Moscow in the third such incident since August.

Authorities opened a criminal investigation into damage of property after the wooden St. John the Apostle Church burned down in northwestern Moscow late on Tuesday. A local activist who had opposed the construction of the church was reportedly questioned by police immediately after the incident. He was cited by media as saying that he was “absolutely not involved.”

Local police said they apprehended an unnamed 35-year-old Muscovite on suspicion of torching the religious building.

“The perpetrator said he set fire to the church in protest against it being built in a park along the canal,” the Interior Ministry branch said Thursday.

The damage is estimated at 1 million rubles ($15,000).

The incident comes a month after unknown arsonists set fire to a wooden church and a Sunday school building in eastern Moscow. Surveillance cameras reportedly showed a masked perpetrator pouring liquid and igniting the church grounds.

According to Interfax-Religion, the Russian Orthodox Church has blamed the arson attacks on individuals opposed to a citywide program to build or restore 200 churches.

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