A Russian Orthodox priest rejected a plea deal Tuesday in St. Paul and is headed to trial for allegedly pointing an AK-47 assault rifle at his wife and teen daughter because the girl got two B’s in school.
Kirill Bartashevitch, 52, pleaded not guilty to two felony counts of terroristic threats after allegedly point the rifle at the mother and daughter during a dispute on Jan. 13, according to a criminal complaint filed in Ramsey County District Court.
Bartashevitch is slated for trial on May 28.
Bartashevitch fired no shots, but threw his wife to the floor when she tried to protect her daughter, the complaint says.
Tuesday, Bartashevitch appeared at the Ramsey County Law Enforcement Center, where a defense attorney, Cullen Smith, told a judge that Bartashevitch is in the process of hiring an attorney over immigration issues.
Bartashevitch, who posted $20,000 bail on Jan. 28, declined to comment on his case. An order for protection filed Jan. 25 bars him from being around his wife or daughter.
He’s been a Russian Orthodox subdeacon and now holds the rank of priest in Christ’s Church, preaching in Minnesota, Illinois, Canada and elsewhere, and also serving at church camps for kids in Canada, according letters written to the court by supporters.
One letter writer says he met “Father Kirill” 14 years ago in Minneapolis, where he lived before moving to Ontario.
“I cannot imagine Fr. Kirill acting irresponsibly or threatening anyone, this would be completely against his character,” wrote Serge Agou, who identifies himself as “deacon of the Church of the Holy Royal Martyrs of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad.”
Agou said Bartashevitch is “self-disciplined” and has self-control.
Prosecutors had offered a plea arrangement in which Bartashevitch would have been convicted on one count and had the second count of terroristic threats dropped. He also would have had a stay of imposition and if he would be required to serve time, the term would have been on the low end of sentencing guidelines.
Prosecutors withdrew that offer Tuesday after Bartashevitch rejected it.
He wrote in a note to the court that he had been suspended without pay from his job of 13 years with the Minneapolis public schools and that he was now looking for employment.
The argument erupted when Bartashevitch began berating his daughter for not getting straight A’s at school. The girl swore and told her father that she “hated” him.
He then pointed his new AK-47 — bought out of fear of a pending gun ban — at his daughter, and the mother intervened, only to have Bartashevitch throw the woman.
Police searched the residence and found receipts documenting the father sold two AK-47 assault rifles to a gun shop days after the incident.