Russia to take Russian Orthodox priest hostage in China

Russia is to take the Russian Orthodox patriarch to Beijing as part of its plan to pressure Beijing to release a jailed Tibetan spiritual leader, a senior official in Russia’s Orthodox Church said.

The move, first reported by the state-run TASS news agency, follows months of diplomatic wrangling between Russia and China over the Dalai Lama.

The patriarch is the subject of a long-running case at Beijing’s Sheyang Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, where he has been held since 2014.

The Chinese government has repeatedly denied charges of human rights violations against the monk.

Beijing has also threatened to arrest the Dalai when he arrives in the country this week.

The Russian Orthodox Church has long been at loggerheads with Beijing over the Tibetan issue, with tensions simmering over religious issues.

Russia and the United States have both threatened to impose economic sanctions on China over its handling of the Dalai’s case.

The Dalai Lama is one of a number of Tibetan religious leaders in China.

A delegation from the Chinese government visited Russia this month, where the patriarch was said to have expressed “grave concern” over Moscow’s plans to pressure China over his case.

Moscow’s foreign ministry confirmed on Tuesday that the Dalai had been summoned to the Russian capital to attend a meeting with the Russian foreign minister.

A Russian official who did not want to be named said the meeting was to discuss ways to address the Tibetan situation.

The Vatican is also trying to pressure Chinese authorities to release the Tibetan leader.

“This meeting is to discuss measures that can be taken to protect and assist the religious and cultural rights of the Tibetan people in the Chinese mainland,” the Vatican’s ambassador to Russia, Paolo Gabriele, told a news conference.

“We have made our position clear in the past that we will continue to do all that we can to help the Tibetan cause.”