On Saturday noon, the prosecutor of Thessaloniki, accompanied by the Chief of Police in Halkidiki and policemen, arrived on Mount Athos, to execute the arrest warrant.
Eventually, after Ephraim was subjected again to a medical examination by a forensic doctor, it was decided that the Archimandrite remains guarded in the monastery until he recovers.
His health has improved slightly according to the Chief of the Medical Service in Carrion Konstantinos Dokouslis who examined him yesterday: "I believe that in 2-3 days, unless something unforeseen happens, he could be taken away", said Dokouslis about his patient whose diagnosis was febrile respiratory infection, aggravation of disc disease and high blood sugar. It should be noted that the deadline for execution of the arrest warrant expires tomorrow at 16:00 am.
Reactions of the Russian Church
The decision for the arrest of the abbot of the Vatopedi Monastery Archimandrite Ephraim is "unreasonably cruel" and "exclusively one of political nature", told the Russian news agency Interfax the Secretary of the Synodical Department for Foreign Church Relations, responsible for inter-church relations, Archpriest Igor Yakimchuk. He also took into account the probability that the arrest is related to the recent visit of the abbot in Russia, where he accompanied the Virgin Mary Belt.
"This is an unprecedented event and it is natural for us to worry. Even if we assume that Ephraim is guilty of something, the arrest of an abbot of the monastery, of a monk is a last resort," said Father Yakimchuk.
According to the representative of the Russian Orthodox Church, it is difficult to determine whether the decision to arrest the abbot is justified because to do that it is necessary to know well both Greek legislation and the specific case, but the very fact of the arrest of Father Ephraim, especially in Christmas Eve, "raises many issues."
"This arrest will ruin the holiday of many religious people in Greece", said the Russian priest.
He expressed his surprise because "the renewal of this case began immediately after the triumphant return of Father Ephraim from Russia with the Virgin Mary Belt, which may be just a coincidence, but many see this somehow connected, as some backroom political games", added Yakimchuk before the Russian agency.
A delegation sent by the Vatopedi monastery accompanied Virgin Mary Belt, which was exposed for worship in 11 Russian cities from 20th of October to 28th of November.
Yesterday in a statement the "St. Andrew the
Apostle," Foundation also vehemently protested
against the arrest of Ephraim. The abbot visited Russia on
their initiative and its president Vladimir Yakunin is
also president of the Russian Railways, and a personal
friend and ally of the Russian Prime Minister Vladimir
Putin. Putin met twice with Father Ephraim in Moscow,
first at the arrival of the Virgin Mary Belt, and later at
his residence, where the delegation from the Vatopedi
monastery was invited.
At the same time on the initiative of the Vice-President of the Foundation Mikhail Yakushev, a Facebook page was created in support of the abbot, where Russian believers are urged to vote in support of the priest and to comment.