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On a sunny Tuesday morning in Tambov, a city about 400 kilometers (250 miles) south of Moscow best known for its delicious potatoes, locals were far from providing support for the defrocked deacon. Several members of the Pokrovsky Cathedral, the church where Baranov served, said they believe that a priest should respect his religious order, and that respect for the church should come before freedom of speech.

“It wasn’t correct for him to write in support (of the Pussy Riot girls),” said Larisa Krasnova, a retired military sergeant who had been visiting the church with her grandson. “I approve of the fact that they were tried because it’s blasphemy and because it’s unforgivable.”

Baranov said he doesn’t expect the support of local churchgoers. He is afraid, however, that the church is preparing to further purge him, ensuring that he will no longer be able to take part in the services that he fell in love with when he was 13 years old.

“When the media furor dies down, they will simply excommunicate me from church,” Baranov said. “Once this happens, I won’t have the right to enter a church, I will lose the right to communion.”

The church has not yet requested Baranov’s excommunication, although it has not denied that such action may take place.

Excommunication is a quite rare punishment in the Orthodox Church. Most famously, novelist Leo Tolstoy was excommunicated, and others who are unrepentant, like Yakunin, have suffered a similar fate.