Israel to extradite Russian priest sought for sexual assault

(Photo:REUTERS / Ronen Zvulun)

Patriarch Kirill (C), the head of the Russian Orthodox Church, visits the Church of Mary Magdalene on the Mount of Olives outside Jerusalem's Old City November 12, 2012.

Israeli prosecutors are to extradite an Orthodox priest who is in the country as a tourist, but is wanted for sexual molestation in Russia.

Gleb Grozovsky, 35, was arrested on Sunday by Israeli police after Russia issued an international arrest warrant over an alleged sexual assault on two girls, Israel National News reported.

Grozovsky works as an advisor to Maksim Mitrofanov, the general director of Football Club Zenit, based in the city of Saint Petersburg.

Investigators say that in June 2013, Grozovsky molested a 9-year-old and 12-year-old in a hotel at a children's camp at the Orthodox travelers club Philadelphia, on the Greek island of Cos.

But Grozovsky denies the accusation and considers it as a challenge from God.

"Whatever the Russian law enforcement authorities do, I take this as something granted to me by God and wish for the fastest resolution of this case," he posted on his account at Vkontakte, A Russian social network.

He said he will return to Russia soon where he will defend his innocence and the honor of his family.

In the post, he also accused the Russian law enforcement for inflicting psychological pressure to members of his family

Meanwhile, investigators revealed that they have additional evidence that the priest "committed series of similar crimes in Saint-Petersburg and the region."

Israel's justice ministry said that Grozovsky arrived in Israel in September 2013 as a tourist. He was reportedly in a business trip at a center helping drug addicts in Israel.

During his stay, he applied for citizenship but was rejected and was asked to leave.

Grozovsky used to work with drug and alcohol addicts in Saint-Petersburg. He is well-known for coordinating church-affiliated programs and even has his own radio show. His arrest has made headlines in Russia.

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