Orthodox Priest Who Converted Muslims Murdered in Russia


RIA Novosti | Nov. 20, 2009

A Russian Orthodox priest, Fr. Daniel Sysoyev, who carried out missionary work among immigrants from ex-Soviet republics, many of them Muslims, received over a dozen death threats before his murder on Thursday, a Russian paper said.

Fr. Daniel of St. Thomas Church in Moscow foresaw his death, writing in his internet diary that he had received telephone threats from Muslims. Fr. Daniel’s evening ‘talks’ for inquirers included several especially designed for Muslims.

Daniel Sysoyev, 34, was shot dead by a masked gunman in St. Thomas Church in southern Moscow on Thursday evening. The killer entered the church, asked for Sysoyev by name, and opened fire with a pistol at close range. The priest was hit in the head and died later in hospital. His assistant was badly wounded in the attack.

“The main theory is that religious motives are behind the crime,” a spokesman for the investigating committee of the Prosecutor-General’s Office said in comments broadcast on the Rossiya state-run TV channel.

The Komsomolskaya Pravda paper said on Friday that Sysoyev had revealed in a recent interview with one of its journalists that he had received 14 death threats by phone and email.

“They’ve threatened to cut my head off 14 times,” the paper quoted the priest as saying. “The FSB [Federal Security Service] got in touch with me a year ago to say they had uncovered a murder plot against me.”

Sysoyev also told the paper that in the past year, his church had “christened 80 Muslims, among them Tatars, Uzbeks, Chechens and Dagestanis.”

He was also quoted as saying that other Orthodox priests were “afraid” to carry out missionary work among Muslim immigrants.

“They are afraid of revenge from the Muslim world,” he said.

Sysoyev also worked with people seeking to quit religious sects, and Russian State Duma MPs asked on Friday for more information on the groups involved.

. . . more


21 thoughts on “Orthodox Priest Who Converted Muslims Murdered in Russia”

  1. More information available at this link:

    Fr Daniel was 35-years-old and his wife and three children survive him. In recent years, he devoted much time to missionary work, in particular, he founded a school of street preachers in Moscow and began to organise similar courses in Saratov, Ulyanovsk, and Murmansk.


    The keen missionary work of Fr Daniil Sysoev was one of the motives for the murder of Fr Daniel Sysoev, said Archdeacon Andrei Kuraev, a professor of at the Moscow Theological Academy. “I’m convinced that his murderer was motivated by religious aims. If so, then, of course, we should add Fr Daniil’s name to the list of the New Martyrs of Russia”, Deacon Andrei told our Interfax-Religion correspondent on Friday. In his belief, “That’s the only thing that could cause someone to hate Fr Daniil Sysoev. It wasn’t due to anything personal nor was it some kind of business deal gone wrong; rather, we can find the cause in his very lively, heartfelt, and passionate preaching of Orthodoxy”. Deacon Andrei observed that the slain priest was an ethnic Tatar. “His mission was largely focused on work with Muslim intellectuals. His debates were heated, open, and public. Don’t rule out that maybe someone who attended or heard of his interviews lacked reasonable arguments and common restraint, so, a bullet was their last argument in their debate with an Orthodox priest”, he said.


    According to investigators, on 19 November, approximately 22.45 Moscow Standard Time (19.45 UTC 14.45 EST 11.45 PST), on the premises of St Thomas church in the Kantemirov district of Moscow, an unknown masked man entered and fired at least four shots, hitting Fr Daniil Sysoev, as well as Vladimir Strelbitsky, the parish choir-director. Fr Daniil died of his wounds in the ambulance. After receiving the appropriate emergency trauma care, Mr Strelbitsky is in stable condition.

  2. What an amazing priest! How tragic that he was slaughtered like this. Lord Have Mercy!

    Mr Yakemenko noted that Fr Daniil worked with Muslims, with migrant workers, with counterculture types, “with very different sorts of people. Like any other exceptional or gifted man, not everyone cared for his ways, but, no one could say that he wasn’t the kind of missionary that people really need today”. He told us that Fr Daniil spent the entire term of the Orthodox youth camp this summer at Lake Seliger “because there were thousands of people there, and he just couldn’t stay away. He baptised, preached, and talked to the kids… It seemed that he was everywhere doing everything. We collected petitions in support of his church (when some wanted to tear it down), and he and I met on several occasions, and we discussed our plans for next summer”.


    Boris Yakemenko, the head of the Orthodox section of the youth movement Nashi, a member of the Public Chamber of Russia, sees the murder of Fr Daniel Sysoev as evidence of our country’s moral crisis. “This heinous crime shows just how far society has gone in its spiritual degeneration. If the walls of a church, or an ordained priest, or even the cross itself didn’t stop such scum, it means that we see the onset of a crisis that is much worse than any global economic crisis… a crisis of consciousness, a crisis of the heart and soul”, Boris Yakemenko told Interfax-Religion on Friday. In his opinion, “Everyone with a heart and a conscience, not only Orthodox, but, anyone with an open soul, must oppose this spiritual decay now, or, we shall pay once again for our indifference with the best things in our lives, leaving our house in ruins. Fr Daniil was a bright, talented, and very active missionary; he was a very significant figure. He preached, spoke, wrote books, and dashed off anywhere at a moment’s notice to where anyone needed his help, pastoral support, or word of comfort”.

  3. Boris Yakemenko is rather naive. This is unfortunately an all too common fate of those who work for converts amongst the followers of the Religion of Peace.

  4. “Blessed are those, who are persecuted for righteousness sake,
    For great is their reward in Heaven”. Glory To God.

  5. As the translator of the Yakemenko piece, I shall say openly that not only is Dave naive, he is ignorant of the Russian scene. Fr Daniil’s murder is only the last in a series of terrorist attacks on clergymen… most of whom were Muslim (as Professor Roman Silantyev ably points up in earlier writings on such attacks)! He sounds like someone addicted to Right-wing Talk Radio, I fear.

    In any case… Mr Yakemenko’s comments are not focused on Islam… they are focused on the spiritual degeneration in contemporary society… there is NO mention of Islam whatsoever. Dave has an unhealthy hatred of Muslims deep-down… there is no doubt that there are Muslim terrorists, but, not quite so many as the looney-right (who are just as bad as the looney-left) would have you believe.

    In any case, the crime is being investigated by the RF Ministry of Internal Affairs, which is headed by General Rashid Gumarovich Nurgaliyev, a Tatar Muslim and patriotic Russian (indeed, he served most of his career in the militsiya in Karelia (no Muslim hotbed that). Dave should withdraw his statement… it’s not in accordance with the facts.

    If you have trouble with a Russian topic… don’t hesitate to e-mail me… I’ll do what I can!

    Barbara-Marie Drezhlo
    Voices From Russia
    Art and Faith

    My other site is focused on Russian art… why not give it a look… search for “Pavel Korin” in the search-box… I think that it’ll be your cup of tea. Look especially at my article on his magnum opus, A Farewell to Rus. THAT says it all.

  6. Sorry Barbara, but this is not about “right wing” radio. As an Arab Christians who has lived under the tyranny of Islam and this is EXACTLY how they react when any Christian dared to preach to Muslims. Many of my family and friends saw countless instances of similar Orthodox Christian priests and missionaries who were murdered for daring to speak of Christ. Also, many Muslim converts to Orthodoxy are threatened and slaughtered. That is the truth! Stop trying to create the impression that we’re exaggerating.

  7. @Barbara

    Speaking like a typical dhimmi. As long as you pay the jizya tax you feel that the muslims will leave you alone, history has proven otherwise.

    Islam has only spread through terrorism and the endless slaughter of christians, jews buddhists, hindus and whatnot.

    This was an act of jihad.

    Why are there not people of other faiths in saudi arabia openly practicing their faiths?

    Typical semitic ideology, what’s ours is ours and what’s yours is up for grabs.

  8. Sorry. Your version doesn’t fit the facts as reported in the Russian news media or as Russian friends have described it. For example, Daniil Alekseyevich was not merely a polemicist against Islam… his thesis for his kanditatura was on the Jehovah’s Witnesses and Seventh Day Adventists. Another one of his books was entitled A Walk from the Protestant to the Orthodox Church.

    No… I do not accept your argument for it does not correspond to the facts. No… I am not an “apologist” for Islam. No… none of you appear to have the slightest knowledge of the situation that exists in Orthodox-Muslim relations in Russia.

    Daniil Alekseyevich was murdered by an unknown assailant. The M.O. is very similar to that used in the assassinations of Orthodox priests and Muslim imams over the past few years. If you were familiar with the Russian press, you would know this.

    I stand by my statement… it is based on a long knowledge and experience of the Russian scene. Anyone who screams that the murder of Daniil Alekseyevich is Muslim revenge is a bloody fool and I say so openly. Only a person ignorant of who Daniil Alekseyevich was could say such. Lord, have mercy!

  9. Egypt Muslims Burn Christian Shops

    Hundreds of Muslim protesters on Saturday burnt Christian-owned shops in southern Egypt and attacked a police station where they believed a Christian accused of raping a Muslim girl was being held, a police official said.

    Police repelled the demonstrators in the town of Farshut using tear gas and also arrested 60 people during the clashes in which seven Coptic Christian-owned shops were destroyed, the official said.

  10. One need not be familiar with the scene specifically in Russia to recognize the likelihood that Muslims murdered this priest.

    Around the world, Muslims often murder those that disagree with their religion. Even more so when a Christian leads someone out of the abyss of Islam. Even more so when that leader is a Christian pastor/priest.

    The fact that the murder took place in a church is an obvious hint that it was most likely motivated by (a rival) religion.

    It appalls me that there are people eager to apologize for a religion that would quickly slaughter them when it becomes convenient (just as Lenin and Stalin did with their “useful idiots”). And, some of those people are in official positions. For example, less than a half-hour after the Fort Hood massacre — and long before any investigation had fully begun, much less finished — a spokesman for the FBI was quick to tell the Lamestream News Media that the event “was not an act of terrorism”. They said the same thing after the shoot-down of Flight 800, and when a Muslim drove his car into a crowd of students on a university sidewalk (while shouting “Allahu akhbar!”), and when a Muslim murdered Jews outside a synagogue, etc., etc.

    Here in the United States, this Islamist-based murder would pass what we call “the duck test”.
    (If it looks like a duck, and walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, then it’s a duck.)

    Some people also try to make the lame argument that “we all worship the same god”. Ha! If that were true, then why do Muslims refer to Jews and Christians as pigs and monkeys, and why do they try to kill as many of us as possible? Answer: because their god tells them to murder us!

    Lord have mercy.

    Tom Kovach
    Mount Juliet, TN
    (near Nashville)

  11. The Copts: Persecuted Christians of Egypt
    By Mounir Bishay – 5/6/2009
    Hundreds of Coptic young girls, including many under aged, are being kidnapped, raped, forced to convert to Islam and marry Muslim men.

    The Egyptian Constitution stipulates that all Egyptians are equal under the law. But the discrimination is widely practiced with sanction from the government. Areas of discrimination include but not limited to education, employment, freedom of religion, building churches, and parliamentary representation.

    • Many colleges limit the enrollment of Copts by imposing a quota of 1 or 2 % while the Copts are about 15% of the populations. A total educational system, from elementary to college, called Al Azhar which is fully funded by all tax payers does not accept Copts as students or as teachers or administrators

    • Many high ranking jobs are out of reach of Copts. Examples are key police and security positions, mayors, police chiefs, deans of colleges, presidents of universities and most diplomatic positions.

    • Christians who want to convert to Islam are welcomed with open arms, while Muslims who would like to convert to Christianity are usually imprisoned and tortured, some die from torture.

    • Building churches still require a permit from regional governess for repairs. Building new churches still require approval of the President. Even when the president approves, the security apparatus must also investigate to see if the Muslim community would not object. If they object, the church may not be built. Many new communities don’t have churches. A permit to build a church could take as long as 20 years and may never be secured.

    • Egypt’s Parliament has just two Coptic elected representatives; one of them was disqualified for holding dual citizenship. This is out of 444 total representatives, which amounts to less than ½ % of the total representatives. The president appoints few more Copts who owe their loyalty to the government rather than to the Coptic people.

  12. Barbara has the spiel down pat. Blame everything on “talk radio”, look for moral equivalence everywhere, and always, and forever, deny, deny, deny the fact that these kinds of killings are a global phenomena occurring everywhere there are Muslims. They kill each other (“honor” killings), they kill cartoonists, they kill priests, they kill Christians, they kill Buddhists, they kill Jews. They kill, they kill, they kill and after a short break sitting down to read the Holy Quran (which urges them to kill, kill, kill) they kill some more.

    In every country on earth they are at war. In those cases where they are in majority, they are at war with each other.

    There has never, ever, been such a consistently violent religion as the Religion of Peace.

  13. Ladies and gentlemen, we have to recognize that Islam is not a religion. It is a worldwide political movement meant on domination of the world. And it is meant to subjugate all people under Islamic law. In the Quran, it says it very clearly. There are two spheres. One is the Dar al-Harb, which is the realm of war. The other is Dar al-Islam, which is that part that’s under submission to Islam. There is no middle ground. You’re either at war or you’re under submission. Now, that’s the way they think. — From the June 12 edition of the Christian Broadcasting Network’s The 700 Club

  14. I respectfully disagree.

    Islam is a religion. It is simply a religion to the wrong god — a false god.

    (Allah is the ancient moon-god of Mesopotamia. He is the son of their sun-god, Baal. Yes, that is the same Baal that is mentioned frequently in the Old Testament.)

    For more detail on this, and many other things, please read my book: Tribulation: 2008.
    (click here)

    I’m glad to see, though, that so many Orthodox Christians take their faith seriously enough to be willing to challenge Islam. This is refreshing, as compared to the mealy-mouthed approach that so many modern “Christians” in the United States take to the encroachment by a religion that openly seeks world domination via forceful subjugation. We cannot take our faith seriously and still have “Rodney King syndrome” (“Can’t we all just get along?”) with regard to Islam.

  15. Fr Daniil was a greatly brave young man who believed in Jesus Christ very sincerely, which is a very rare case today. He put God in the center of his life, and he was not afraid to follow Him as far as it is required in the Bible. Not too many people read the Bible with open hearts anymore, unfortunately. I think Barbara needs to rethink her understanding of Christianity if she can so easily criticize the priest murdered in the Christian Church, priest who was not afraid to preach Jesus Christ to muslims (because he said it is a sin to exclude them from preaching just because of the fear to face prosecution from them).

    Yes, he was no tolerable. He did not like the word: “tolerance”. He said in one of his interviews: do you know what does tolerance mean in medical settings? It means a lack of immunity, and tolerance is a sign of serious sickness. It happens when people have cancer, AIDs… Our society is very dangerously sick. We don’t know our faith anymore, we lack strong faith in God (even if most people think otherwise), because our society does not live based on moral values, but we live material oriented lives. We, as Christians, have to remember what Bible tells us, and remember that faith without actions is DEAD. We have to put GOD as a purpose of our life, we have to remember that our life here is very contemporary…

    Muslims want us to be tolerant to them. But what it means? They sued me for my book where I encourage christian girls to avoid marriage with muslims. Muslims said this book creates hatred between christians and muslims. My book was published for christian audience, it was distributed through churches’ bookstores. What rights muslims have to tell me, Christian priest, what I should tell to my godchildren for their good? I don’t ask to use violence, I just explain the difference between us and that such serious decision in christian life as marriage should be made on safe grounds between people who have same values, otherwise there would be a tragedy, and the victim (almost always) will be the christian person.

    Another example: In disputes with muslims, I openly say that my religion is right and their is wrong and give them my reasonings. Muslims get mad, and want me to be quiet. Why should I be quiet? I have right to believe in my God, and anybody who believes in different God would also think that their religion is true and best. I have no problem to hear the same things from muslims about Allah. But if my arguments are stronger and they feel defeated they don’t give me arguments anymore, but just threaten to kill me if I don’t get quiet. But Jesus Christ said: DO NOT BE AFRAID. And that’s why I’m not.

    Muslims want to control what Christians should believe, say and teach among christians. I don’t believe in such tolerance. True believers are never tolerant, because the TRUTH is one. And person who believes in God (in any religion) is never tolerant to agree in his heart with other gods.

    Christianity asks us to tell nonbelievers about true God, but it is up to the people to accept our teaching or not, because our God wants only those who want to chose Him freely. We don’t force our religion on others, we respect their free choice. But muslims do force people to convert, and kill the people who chose to convert from Islam to Christianity….

    We have no rights to be tolerant today, we have to follow Christ sincerely, and to protect our faith in our hearts. We have to grow good seeds in our hearts and prepare for future eternal life with hot hearts. We can not tolerate wrong values FOR OUR LIVES, we have to reject them if we want to be true Christians.-

    This is my understanding of one of his interview. He was so young priest, far from politics and judicial systems. He was sued by muslims multiple times, threatened by them (he wrote in his internet journal last month: my muslim friends with their “religion of true peace” again threatened to cut my head off today…). He believed that he will be a martyr one day… And he was a true Father that saved lives of many… And many are missing him now… May God rest his soul in peace! Please pray for him!

  16. Dear Antonina,

    Thank you for your translations of Fr Daniil’s words; I believe as time goes on more and more of his works will be translated from Russian into other languages. If you keep providing English translations then I will be very grateful, and make sure his message reaches a wider audience.

  17. Barbara-Marie,

    his thesis for his kanditatura was on the Jehovah’s Witnesses and Seventh Day Adventists. Another one of his books was entitled A Walk from the Protestant to the Orthodox Church.

    Wow, I’ve missed the news reports on all the Witnesses, Adventists and Protestants committing violence against Orthodox Christians. The media must be biased against Muslims, because I haven’t heard of any other than the Muslims doing all the bombing, assassinating, beating, and killing. I will be more attentive.

    Peace on earth, Good Will toward man.

Comments are closed.