The Russian Orthodox Church has admitted it doctored a photograph of Patriarch Kirill on its website to erase his expensive watch, after bloggers highlighted the efforts.
The Telegraph reports:
The picture in question shows the patriarch sitting at a polished wooden table with Russia’s Justice Minister Alexander Konovalov in 2009.
While his wrist appears to be covered with a black tunic, a reflection on the table reveals a fancy watch.
“Employees of the press office’s photo department have made an absurd mistake while working with the photo archive on the website,” a statement circulated by the patriarch’s press service said.
“Why a crude violation of our ethics was committed is something that will be carefully investigated, and the guilty will be severely punished.”
“They have completely lost their minds in the Russian Orthodox Church,” wrote Vadim Petrichenko, a blogger who was the first to find the doctored photo and put it on his Facebook page on Wednesday evening.
The photos were replaced with the original undoctored version Thursday.
Patriarch Kirill’s watch has been a subject of controversy ever since he wore it on a visit to Ukraine in 2009. Perceptive observers identified the model as a Breguet, which costs about 30,000 euros.
The patriarch last week denied that he wears such a watch and called any photo evidence a collage.
The church is currently suffering through a public-relations nightmare…
I keep saying this: Don’t lie. Be honest. The truth will come out, one way or another… It always does! And it really looks especially bad when leaders in the Church are found out.