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Russian Orthodox Leader Dies At 68

Metropolitan Ioann, the head of the Russian Orthodox Church in St. Petersburg and Ladoga and a leader of church hard-liners, has died of a heart attack. He was 68.

The metropolitan, known for outspoken nationalism and anti-Semitism, had suffered from heart trouble in recent years, the Interfax news agency said. The report said he died Thursday.

Born in 1927 in southern Russia, he was ordained as a deacon in 1946 and rose quickly in the church. In 1976 he became archbishop, and since 1990 he led the St. Petersburg and Ladoga diocese, Russia’s second largest.

He frequently blamed many of Russia’s troubles on Jews and people from the Caucasus Mountains.