A Russian Orthodox cathedral on New York’s Upper East Side appears to have been defaced with red paint on Friday night, the same day the Russian consulate building about six blocks away was spray-painted red .
Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday declared the annexation of four regions of Ukraine.
An eyewitness told CNN he saw a person wearing a face mask splatter red paint on the steps of St. Nicholas Russian Orthodox Cathedral late Friday night.
The act of vandalism was confirmed to CNN by Father Nicodème, spokesperson for the cathedral.
Remnants of paint could be seen on Saturday morning after the eyewitness observed a woman working to clean it.
“We sincerely do not understand these individuals who allow themselves acts of vandalism in relation to our cathedral. We pray for them,” Nicodemus said in a statement to CNN. “We want them to realize that the Russian Orthodox Church in the United States conducts important spiritual and peacemaking activities here, and we are open to everyone, regardless of nationality and political beliefs.”
The NYPD said it was not aware of or investigating this incident.
Police previously told CNN they were investigating the red graffiti on the Russian consulate building as a “possible incident of bias.” There were no updates in this survey.
It is the third case of vandalism since the start of the year where the cathedral has been covered in paint or written with “insulting” inscriptions, Nicodemus said.
In addition, “insulting” calls and emails have also been received by the cathedral, he said. Some have included direct threats against clergy and parishioners.
St. Nicholas Cathedral is “obligated to forward such messages to the police”, Nicodemus said. “We are grateful to New York City law enforcement for their prompt response to our messages and their continued support.”
Half of the church’s parishioners are Ukrainians, and it continues to be their main house of prayer, he added.
The church said that since February its parishioners have been actively involved in raising financial and humanitarian aid for victims of the war in Ukraine.