Russian Catholic on trial for publishing Pope's prayer for peace
Konstantin Jankauskas, deputy of the Zjuzino district, is due to appear in court on 26 August. He is charged with 'discrediting the armed forces', having published the Pope's supplication on the day of the consecration of Russia and Ukraine to Our Lady. Active in politics for some time, in the past he had contact with a movement close to Naval'nyj and was arrested several times. Kirill will not go to Kazakhstan, meeting with Francis called off.
Moscow (AsiaNews) - In Moscow a deputy of the Zjuzino district, Catholic Konstantin Jankauskas, has been fined and put on trial for discrediting the armed forces. He is guilty of having published Pope Francis' prayer for peace on his Facebook page on the day of his consecration to Our Lady on 14 March, calling for an end to military action in Ukraine.
Hours ago news also arrived from the Russian capital that Patriarch Kirill will not go to the congress of religious leaders in Kazakhstan in mid-September. The prospect of a new meeting with the Pontiff, which, according to sources in the Moscow Patriarchate, cannot be "on the sidelines" of another event but must be "independent" and prepared "with great care", has therefore been dashed. A delegation of the Russian Orthodox will in any case be present at the interreligious meeting at which Francis will speak.
Returning to the Jankauskas affair, he recalled that "the city bearing the name of the Virgin Mary to whom we addressed our prayers, Mariupol, has become a city-martyr of the war that destroys souls and is exhausting Ukraine... With a heart full of sorrow I join my voice to that of the ordinary people, who are asking for an end to the war. In the name of God, may the voice of those who suffer be heard, may the attacks and bombings be stopped!", quoting the words spoken by the pontiff during the consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
The appeal hearing at the Zjuzino district court takes place tomorrow, 26 August, and Konstantin confesses that he "doesn't quite know what to say to the judge: how can a prayer for peace and life be a discredit to anyone? It seems absurd to me, really an attempt to call white black'.
Jankauskas is 40 years old and was born in Moscow into a family of Lithuanian origin, as his surname, of Catholic tradition, attests. An economist specialising in the market, he graduated in political science from the Faculty of Philosophy at Mgu University, studying the relationship between the state and civil society. Active in politics, he is a member of the organising committee of the 'Party of 5 December', an unofficial liberal movement that commemorates the date of the Bolotnaja Square demonstrations in 2011, the first to bring out anti-corruption slogans from the blogger Aleksej Naval'nyj. He also participates in the 'Solidarnost' movement, which refers to the famous Polish trade union.
Konstantin has been a deputy in the Zjuzino municipality since 2012, re-elected in 2017, and in 2014 he also ran for the Moscow Duma. At the time, however, he was blocked by a criminal charge related to the Naval'nyj group's campaign financing when it won over 30% in the Moscow mayoral elections in 2013, the best result of the opposition in the Putin era. He denounced the accusation as trumped-up and fabricated, but was placed under house arrest for a few days, the very days in which he had to submit his nomination papers for the elections. He tried again in 2016 in the State Duma elections, taking fourth place in the uninominal constituency with 8.22% of the vote.
In 2019 he made another attempt to run for parliament. During the election campaign, searches were carried out in the flats of his parents and grandmother, and he himself was arrested four times. Between 2020 and 2021 he was again put in custody for the so-called 'sanitary action', the mass arrests justified by the anti-Covid measures of the pro-Naval'nyj protesters, after his poisoning and arrest on his return to Russia.
On this occasion Jankauskas was recognised as a 'political prisoner' by the Memorial association, later dissolved by the Moscow court at the request of the authorities.
His father Stasis Jankauskas, married to the journalist Olga Gorelik, was also a university professor and never hid his religious convictions, for which he was dismissed several times in the days of Soviet atheism. Konstantin's family members have invited all interested persons to attend the trial for 'papal discreditation'; many will join the desire for peace that is not only of Catholics, but of all people of goodwill in Russia as well as in Ukraine and the whole world.