A Russian Orthodox cathedral on New York City’s Upper East Side appears to have been defaced with red paint on Friday night, the same day that the Russian Consulate building about six blocks away was graffitied with red spray paint.
Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday declared the annexation of four regions of Ukraine.
An eyewitness told CNN they saw a person in a face mask splash red paint on the steps of St. Nicholas Russian Orthodox Cathedral late Friday evening.
The act of vandalism was confirmed to CNN by Abbot Nicodemus, a cathedral spokesperson.
Remnants of the paint could be seen Saturday morning after the eyewitness observed a woman working to scrub it away.
“We sincerely do not understand those individuals that allow themselves acts of vandalism in relation to our cathedral. We pray for them,” Nicodemus said in a statement to CNN. “We want them to realize that the Russian Orthodox Church in the USA carries out important spiritual and peacemaking activities here, and we are open to all people, regardless of their nationality and political beliefs.”
The NYPD said it was not aware of or investigating this incident.
Police previously told CNN they were investigating the red graffiti on the Russian Consulate building as a “possible bias incident.” There were no updates in that investigation.
It is the third case of vandalism since the beginning of the year where the cathedral has been covered with paint or written with “insulting” inscriptions, Nicodemus said.
In addition, “insulting” calls and emails have been received by the cathedral as well, he said. Some have included direct threats against the clergy and parishioners.
Saint Nicholas Cathedral is “compelled to turn such messages to the police,” said Nicodemus. “We are grateful to the law enforcement agencies of New York for their prompt response to our messages and their constant support.”
Half of parishioners at the church are Ukrainians, and it continues to be their main house of prayer, he added.
The church said that since February, their parishioners have been actively involved in collecting financial and humanitarian assistance for the victims of the war in Ukraine.
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