A Ukrainian Orthodox priest who was taken captive by Russian occupation forces in May 2023, is now facing espionage charges.

Voice of the Martyrs Canada says that the criminal trial for Father Kostiantyn Maksimov began on June 6 according to an announcement made by the Russian prosecutor for the Zaporizhzhia Region in late March 2024 at the Zaporizhzhia Regional Court in Melitopol. Despite the commencement of the trial, Russian officials have withheld the identity of the presiding judge.

The final judicial arguments are set to be heard on July 31, with a verdict expected on August 2. If convicted, Father Kostiantyn could be transferred to a prison in Russia, where he may serve up to 12 years.

Father Kostiantyn’s plight is part of a broader crackdown on individuals in occupied Ukrainian territories who are not associated with Russian-approved churches.

A report from Voice of the Martyrs Canada in April 2024 says that "Several other religious leaders have either been killed, tortured or reported missing after being detained by members of the Russian forces."

Prosecutors have accused the Ukrainian priest of reporting the location of Russian air defences to the Ukrainian security service via Telegram

Supporters of Father Kostiantyn are calling for prayers for his safety and for all those detained by Russian forces. They urge the global Christian community to pray for these imprisoned believers to remain steadfast in their faith, and to find provision, encouragement, and strength in God. Additionally, they pray for peace in the war-torn region and for justice to prevail for those affected by the ongoing conflict.