Yaroslavl, Russia, November 18, 2020
Igumen Daniel (Sokolov), abbot of the Holy Trinity-Danilov Monastery in Pereslav-Zalessky, was killed in his cell on July 7, 2016. He was just 42 years old.
The Ministry of Internal Affairs had investigated more than 3,000 people when they finally received information about the possible involvement of the 31-year-old Vladivostok native Alexander Avdeev, who was sentenced to 6 years in prison in 2018 for a similar crime. Avdeev then confessed to the murder of Fr. Daniel.
And after 4 years, the matter has finally come to an end, as a Yaroslavl court found Avdeev guilty of murder, grand theft, and illegally and violently entering a dwelling. He was sentenced to 15 years in a maximum security prison, reports the Pereslavl Diocese of the Russian Orthodox Church.
The state prosecution had requested a 23-year sentence. Avdeev again confessed his guilt in court, though he denied that he did it out of self-interest, reports RIA-Novosti.
The investigation and court found that on the morning of July 7, 2016, Avdeev entered the monastery to kill Fr. Daniel. After entering his cell, he stabbed him several times, which proved fatal. He then searched his cell and stole $17,355 (1.1 million rubles).
Avdeev’s lawyer recently explained that his client had felt the monastery did not value him, and belittled and used him during his time there in 2011-2012—making him shovel snow by hand, for example, although the monastery owns snowplows. He wanted to become a monk, with Fr. Daniel as his spiritual guide, but there were often conflicts between them, the lawyer said, and Avdeev finally became disillusioned with Orthodoxy.
After leaving the monastery, he engaged in various spiritual practices, traveled to India, and used various psychedelic drugs. In mid-June 2016, he returned to Russia in a depressed state. He recalled his “abuser,” hitched a ride to the monastery, and brutally murdered Fr. Daniel.
“He considered father Daniel the source of all his troubles. It was an obsession with him,” Avdeev’s lawyer explained, adding that the theft was an afterthought. With the money, he returned to India and bought a phone, clothes, and other items.
According to his lawyer, Avdeev repents of what he did and no longer blames Fr. Daniel, though he also killed a man in Moscow, for which he was already sentenced to 6 years in prison.
Fr. Daniel (Sokolov) joined a monastery in 1997. Two years later, he was tonsured a monk and ordained to the holy priesthood. For more than 10 years, he bore various obediences, helping to restore Holy Dormition Monastery in Adrianova Sloboda in the Yaroslavl Province. In 2012, he was appointed acting abbot of Holy Trinity-Danilov Monastery, and in 2014, he was confirmed as the abbot. On July 7, 2016, his bod was found with stab wounds in his cell at the monastery.
Read personal reminiscences and learn more about the murdered Abbot Daniel in the article, “White Robes: In Memory of Murdered Igumen Daniel (Sokolov).”