A teenage “Satanist” has been detained after he allegedly confessed to destroying one of Russia’s most historic churches in an arson attack.
The wooden Dormition orthodox church on the shore of Lake Onega was erected in 1774 by Catherine the Great – and burned down in a raging inferno last week.
Schoolboy Ignat Sharapov, 15 – whose social media is full of Satanist signs and images – has told police he set fire to the structure by using five litres of petrol to ignite its dry timber.
An expert said it will cost £1 million to reconstruct the 138 ft church – as tall as a 12 storey building – at Kondopoga in Karelia republic in northern Russia.
A law enforcement source said: “He classifies himself as a Satanist. Allegedly he just did not like the church.”
A witness said: “He was a Satanist, dressed in black. And when he was detained by police, he laughed.”
Over breakfast the teenager had told his relatives he was going to destroy the church which had stood beside Lake Onega for 244 years, but they thought he was joking.
He asked his grandmother to wrap up some homemade biscuits for him to give to his friend, who he later met and read something on his tablet computer.
“His expression changed – he got up and said: ‘I’m going to burn down the church’,” his friend said.
He doused the church in petrol then set fire to it.
The church caretaker said: “He took with him five litres of gasoline, and walked along the lake.
“The dry timber caught like a candle.”
More than 20 firefighters with six appliances rushed to the scene of the famous church but were unable to extinguish the flames which destroyed the bell tower in a few minutes and the entire structure in two hours.
The boy then fled the scene and was apprehended after his grandmother called the emergency services to report the fire.
He has been held by police in detention pending further investigations into a criminal case involving arson.
Sharapov’s social media contained a picture of a burning church before the attack on the historic 18th century building, along with many satanic images.
State-run TV named the boy citing law enforcement sources and showed his satanic ‘temple’ in a disused poultry farm building daubed in devil-worshipping signs and slogans.
His cousin Ilya Kornilov told Vesti news programme: “He believed in Satan.
“He was into pentagrams, and he has a hall of evil spirits.
“He spray painted this place.”
Recently, he was seen cutting the heads off hens “just out of interest”.
He refused to swim in the lake with other teenagers if he could see the church.
The church was destroyed on the same day – August 10 – as Norwegian pagan Varg Vikernes murdered Mayhem guitarist Øystein “Euronymous” Aarseth.
Vikernes, 45, was also convicted of church-burning in Norway.
The boy’s mother Larisa Sharapova, 49, has not commented.
Church restoration expert Tatiana Vakhrameeva said it would cost as much as 80 million roubles – almost £1 million – to reconstruct the church which was burned virtually to the ground.