Moscow, (SVM News), 5 December 2006: A Russian Orthodox Priest named Rev. Father Andrei Nikolayev, his wife Oksana and three young children were burnt alive in their home on overnight to Sunday, December 3 in the village Dalekushi in Central Russia's Tver region, about 160 Kilometers (100 miles) north west of Moscow.
At the time of the fire all of them were in the house. The firefighters arrived to see a collapsed roof and ceiling supports, and a central part of the house already burnt down. The remains of the family were found under the ruins.
Father Andrei Nikolayev and family
The oldest of the children was a boy named David of 9 years old. His two younger sisters, Anna and Anastasia, were 7 and 4 years of age.
The Russian Interior Ministry set up an operational headquarters for an investigation into the family's death. Acting Chief of the Criminal Investigation Department of the Interior Ministry Lieutenant-General Iskandar Galimov was put in charge of the investigation.
Police have opened a criminal case into the death of priest and his family. A criminal case was opened on charges of "murder committed by method posing common threat", Sergei Yagodkin, the regional prosecutor of Tver said.
Regional Governor Dmitry Zelenin has brought the investigation under personal control. "If it was an atrocious crime, the criminals responsible should be severely punished. Notwithstanding Christian leniency such crimes are never forgiven," Zelenin said.
"I appeal to law enforcement bodies, asking to thoroughly investigate the crime and get the best experts take part in the investigation," the governor added.
The members of the church and the residents of the village told SVM News that Father Andrei Nikolayev and family brutally burnt alive on overnight to Sunday in what could be a case of arson to stop his efforts to combat alcohol abuse.
He was threatening from alcoholics over his unwillingness to let them raid parish funds to fuel their drinking habits. They have stolen icons and other religious objects from the church and then sold them to buy drink. SVM News reports.
According a Deputy Prosecutor of the Tver Region, priest Andrei Nikolayev and family died from carbon monoxide poisoning when their home went up in flames.
Funeral of the Priest and his family was held in a cemetery in the settlement of Vasilkovo in the Tver reign on Tuesday.