THE RUSSIAN CHURCH.
Motives Which May Have Inspired Its Destruction.
EXPLOITS OF KAVRIGEN.
Hoodlums May Have Robbed the Sanctuary and Then Fired It.
"I desire to correct some statements which have been made in the papers with reference to the fire in our church and the criticisms upon the policy of the church which have also appeared," said Bishop Vladimir to an Examiner reporter last evening.
"We have no books which would throw any light upon the financial affairs of any of our church people or expose any embezzlements; of that I am positively certain.
"Fear of exposure could not have been a motive for the incendiarism, as the affairs of the society are not under church surveillance.
"Kedrolevonsky was an archpriest, not a Bishop. It was reported that he fell upon the sidewalk while intoxicated, and died from the effects of the fall. I do not know, but I suspect he was murdered. I cannot say who was accessory to his murder, for I do not know.
"I was sent here, not as an investigator, but as a peacemaker. There was trouble between the Consul and a faction about the cemetery. I settled it by having the cemetery transferred to the church.
"If there were crimes among the clergymen I could excommunicate them. I have not done so. I excommunicated a layman in Alaska because he was rebellious. He became penitent and was readmitted to the church.
THE CHURCH HAS NO SPIES.
"The charges in an evening paper were not made by a Russian. The Russian Church has no spies in its employ in San Francisco, because, if for no other reason, it has no need of them. Russia and the United States are the best of' friends, and then we have no interests on this Coast that would require any spies. San Francisco is too far from Russia for any nihilistic plots against the Czar.
"Even the Church service is carried on in English, because we have Greeks and Slavonians in our congregation who understand English but not Russian.
"I am the only Russian Clergyman here. We have one Pole and the others are Greeks or Slavonians.
"We receive no funds from Alaska, but, on the contrary, the money for the Alaskan missions is received from Russia and passes through my hands. Every priest, deacon, reader and all the schools receive their money through me. It would not be reasonable for them to conspire against me.
Kedrolevonsky was an educated man, but not a high school graduate. He was a favorite here because he frequented saloons and dances. He was a hypocrite. He was also a drunkard. Kavrigan was unscrupulous. He had an illegitimate child and was suspended for his crimes and ordered to Russia. Kedrolevonsky and Kavrigan had quarrels because the Holy Synod in Russia appointed the former to judge the latter. Kavrigan wanted to be archpriest and made all manner of intrigues. If Kedrolevonsky was murdered, as I suspect, it was not by church people, but by outcasts, Nihilists of whom there are a number in this city. Kavrigan for his crimes was disgraced and removed to Russia. He is no longer permitted to be a priest, and is in a sorrowful condition and earns a poor living by making images and writing for the papers.
"I do not think that the money prior to my arrival was all spent in profligacy; much of it must have been pocketed.
"Bishop Nestor was a pious man. He did not spend money in vicious ways, but both Kedrolevonsky and Kavrigan did. I do not think Bishop Nestor was murdered. There was much talk about his murder but no proof.
"I investigated the church books upon my arrival and found everything satisfactory.
FIRED BY HOODLUMS.
"I think it would be more natural to ascribe the fire to the work of hoodlums than to any of our church people. There is no trace of a number of valuable gold and silver vessels used in the church, which would seem to indicate that robbery might have been the motive for the fire.
"I have no enemies within the orthodox church or among the American people. Before I came here from three to five attended divine service. We now have from 100 to 200, while on Easter Sunday 800 persons were present.
"I did not discharge a cook for an attempt to poison me. Last September the cook left because the work was so hard, owing to the increased number in our household. He did not secure a place elsewhere, and some time ago he asked me to secure him a place on the Russian man-of-war, which I did.
THE BISHOPS LIFE SECURE.
"My life is not in danger. I sleep with my door unlocked, as I have no enemies. As to the assertion to the contrary in an evening paper, I would like to ask if the man is a prophet or a mind-reader?
"There are no crimes to be exposed in the church and there is no one within the church who is hostile to me. It is to their interest that I should stay here. Otherwise, if I went away, the clerical force would be reduced to one priest, a reader and six boys, and the others would be without positions. I have not been tyrannical , as I have had no occasion to resort to punishment.
"We do not ship liquors and shotguns to Alaska. A cask containing ten gallons of wine is sent to Alaska yearly for use in communion.
"I do not know how the fire started, but am confident that it was not the work of any of our church people. I know that my life is not in danger."
A PLAIN CASE OF ARSON.
B. M. Gopchevitch Says Somebody in the Building Fired It.
The burning of the Russian Church was the general topic f discussion among members of that faith yesterday.
B. M. Gopchevitch, one of the prominent Slavonians of this city, said to an Examiner reporter:
"It is a plain case of arson. The church was fired by some one within the building and for the purposes stated in the Examiner. Every honest man in the congregation is anxious to have the criminals which exist among us punished."
"Do you think it was an attach upon Bishop Vladimirs life?" asked the reporter.
"I most certainly do," replied Mr. Gopchevitch. "They wish to destroy the Bishop and the records in order that their own nefarious deeds may not be exposed."
"But why should they desire to destroy the records?"
"Because there are those in our society who are guilty of embezzlement of the associations funds, as the record will show, and because the records will show that those who claim real estate here have no legal right to their possession. We are all sorry for the destruction of the church, Greeks, Russians and Slavonians alike. There is no race feeling among our co-religionists, but we all regret that among people of our faith should be found those who cast a stigma upon our good name and religion.
"We feel especially grateful to the Russian Government for its efforts in our behalf, and we trust that funds for the repair of the church may be raised in this city without the necessity of appealing to Russia for aid."
"Will any steps be taken to discover the author of the crime?"
"An investigation will be begun at once, and it is my opinion hat the crime will soon be brought to light. I am glad to state that every document of value was saved, and that the efforts of the incendiaries came to naught."
"How is Bishop Vladimir regarded by his parishioners?"
"He is held in high regard; and this attempt, as I believe, upon his life adds only to his popularity. From the very beginning of our church and society there has been a small criminal element which has been working for personal aggrandizement, careless of the means which they employed and resolute in their evil doings. I think this last of the culmination of their crimes and that they will soon be brought to punishment."
"What are the names of these parties to whom you refer?"
"That will be published in good time. At present I can state only that there are some half a dozen who are linked together in their wicked schemes."
Found on the Steps of a Saloon With a Fractured Skull.
The records at the Coroners office show that Paul J. Kedrolevonsky was a Russian Archpriest, about forty-two years of age. He was taken by Officer Michael Brickley to the Central Police Station while in an unconscious condition about 2 oclock on the morning of Tuesday, June 18, 1878. Dr. C. A. Stivers, the Police Surgeon, testified that the deceased was admitted to the Receiving Hospital at 2:10 a.m. on June 18th, having a fracture of the skull; and that he died at 7:30 oclock p.m. of the same day. He was unconscious and breathing heavily when admitted, and his condition remained unchanged until his death. The autopsy disclosed the fact that the scalp of deceased was very thick and strongly adherent, and on the whole of the left side there was a large amount of suffused blood. On the left side was found a fracture of the skull, commencing in the temporal bone, running upward and slightly backward into the parietal bone, being three inches in length; thence at right angles backward half an inch; thence downward and slightly backward two inches; thence at right angles forward one and three-fourth inches intersecting the first line described, leaving a detached piece pressing upon the brain. This portion of the skull was quite thin. From the point of intersection there was a fracture running across the temporal bone and ending in the median line of the frontal bone at a distance of about four and a half inches. There was also a fracture from the lower corner of the detached piece running backward across the parietal bone a distance of about half an inch. The brain directly under the fracture was lacerated and a brain clot weighing four ounces was found. The brain was in a healthy condition.
Prisonkeeper Lindheimer stated that Kedrolevonsky had been brought to the prison in a drunken state on two previous occasions.
D. Mindeleff of 619 Montgomery street stated that he left the deceased on the night in question at the Tivoli Theater. He was a boarder of his and he had not seen him drunk for months. Deceased was taken from Eggers saloon steps at the corner of California and Spring streets while lying in an insensible condition.
The San Francisco Examiner, May 23, 1889