Yaroslavl, Russia, March 4, 2021
The man who murdered Igumen Daniel (Sokolov), 42, abbot of the Holy Trinity-Danilov Monastery in Pereslav-Zalessky, in 2016, will now serve 21 years in prison for his crime.
Having been found guilty, Vladivostok native Alexander Avdeev was initially sentenced to 15 years in November, though the state prosecutor, who had requested a 23-year sentence, insisted that Avdeev’s time behind bars be lengthened.
According to the new decision from the appeals court, the murderer’s original conviction and sentence were vacated and replaced with a 21-year sentence, followed by a year-and-a-half probation with limited freedom, reports the press service of the court.
The state prosecutor argued that the Yaroslavl Regional Court’s original sentence was groundless as the court had failed to recognize Avdeev’s actions as of mercenary intent. However, the appeals court found the prosecution’s arguments convincing and found Avdeev guilty of assault and murder coupled with robbery and handed him a 21-year sentence, reports Interfax-Religion.
Having stabbed Fr. Daniel several times in his own cell, Avdeev, who lived at the monastery in 2011-2012, then stole $17,355 (1.1 million rubles).
The defense had also appealed to have Avdeev’s sentence reduced, the court told Interfax.
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.
His lawyer explained last year 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).”