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23:37 GMT +3 hours22 December 2014
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Moscow Priest 'Kills Two' in Road Accident

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An Orthodox Church priest has been suspended after a road accident in Moscow late on Thurday in which two people were killed, the Church said.

An Orthodox Church priest has been suspended after a road accident in Moscow late on Thurday in which two people were killed, the Church said.

Hieromonk Ilya, 26, was allegedly behind the wheel of a luxury Mercedes G-Wagen, when it crashed into road works on the Kutuzovsky Prospekt highway just west of the city center, killing the two road workers and injuring another. The vehicle then skidded off into the oncoming lane, where it hit a taxi, injuring its driver and passenger.

Ilya allegedly fled the scene on foot.

The priest, who took his vows in 2009, has been suspended from his duties until a police investigation is complete, the Church's press service said in a statement.

Top Moscow cleric Hegumen Savva denied media reports that Ilya worked in the Moscow Patriarchate office, saying he was instead serving in a church in northern Moscow.

"Unfortunately, we rarely ever see him there," he added.

The crash is the second high-profile road accident recently involving an Orthodox Church priest. The abbot of a downtown Moscow church was accused of being drunk behind the wheel after the Maltese diplomatic vehicle he was driving ploughed into another car on July 31.

Witnesses said Hegumen Timofei's eyes were "glazed and crazy" after the crash, but the abbot refused to take a breathalyzer test, the online Gazeta.ru newspaper reported. His lawyer later claimed he had been "taking medicine," which could have accounted for his appearance.

The Church said Timofei was driving the BMW Z4 roadster as a "private person."

He was, however, also banned from holding services, the Church said.