21 priests serve in Russian army
Over 240 military priests will serve in the Army and Navy, said Boris Lukichev, head of the Russian Armed Forces Directorate for working with religious servicemen.
"We have 21 priests in the army and navy. They signed contracts with commanders and perform their professional duties. Twenty are Orthodox Christians and one is from a Muslim ummah, imam-hatyb Sindikayev. He is serving in the Southern Military District. The rest were sent to other districts and army services," Lukichev said in an interview with the Komsomolskaya Pravda newspaper, published on Monday.
Following the defense minister's decision in 2010, the ministry introduced 240 positions for military priests and nine civilian positions, he said. Priest vacancies were first filled at Russian military bases abroad: Archpriest Alexander Bondarenko in Sevastopol, Priest Alexander Terpugov in Gudaut (Abkhazia) and Archimandrite Andrei (Vats) in Gyumri (Armenia).
The starting salary of a military priest is 10,000 rubles, Lukichev said. Yet another 100% of that is being paid for the difficulty of the military service. Plus, a regional coefficient and additional payments due after a certain period of service. Plus bonuses. In total, they are paid on average around 27,000-30,000 rubles, and the figure is even higher abroad.
Also, the material pay for priests (bed sheets, clothes, boots, and other gear) is being decided; when in a field, a priest can wear field uniform. But a priest is not in administrative subordination to the command. Nor does he have any military rank.
Up to 70% of the Russian army consider themselves religious, the defense official said. Eighty percent of them are Orthodox Christians. This is why most priests are Orthodox Christians, particularly in the tactical forces. Two hundred worship facilities have so far been built at military bases.