A Russian Orthodox priest assaulted two pensioners in St. Petersburg during a road rage incident this weekend, media reports said on Wednesday.
“I didn’t expect he would hit me,” Valentina Pavlova, 60, told the Komsomolskaya Pravda newspaper. “The force of his blow sent me reeling.”
Pavlova said she had been forced to brake sharply after a vehicle cut her up. She then went to remonstrate with the driver of the other vehicle, who turned out to be 34-year-old priest Sergei Frunza.
She said he then punched both her and her sister during the ensuing row.
“Go ahead, call the police, nothing will happen to me!” he shouted, she told the paper.
The priest has been suspended from his duties, church officials said.
Police have confirmed the incident took place and a probe is underway.
Frunza has refused to comment on the incident.
The incident is the latest in a number of road-related scandals to hit Russia’s powerful Orthodox Church.
A 26-year-old priest is under investigation in Moscow after a traffic accident in which two people were killed last month.
Hieromonk Ilya was allegedly behind the wheel of a luxury Mercedes G-Wagen, when it crashed into road works just west of the city center, killing two road workers and injuring another. Ilya is reported to have fled the scene of the crash on foot.
The deadly crash came after 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.