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See above a screenshot of the photo of Kirill with the wristwatch on. The doctored version shows Kirill without the watch. iMediaEthics has circle in red the wristwatch in question.(Credit: Russian Orthodox Church website, screenshot)

The Russian Orthodox Church apologized April 4 for publishing a doctored photo on its website, Reuters reported.

The doctored photo Photoshopped out “a luxury wristwatch…worth about $30,000” from a photo of Patriarch Kirill, according to Reuters.

Kirill had been criticized for “a lavish lifestyle,” according to Reuters.  The Telegraph added that Kirill’s “watch has been a subject of controversy ever since he wore it on a visit to Ukraine in 2009”

The Photoshop was detected by “eagle-eyed bloggers” according to Reuters.  The bloggers noted that “an archive photo of the patriarch on its website showed the reflection of a Breguet watch worth about $30,000 in the polished surface of a table where his arms rested during talks.”

According to the Telegraph, blogger Vadim Petrichenko “was the first to find the doctored photo and put it on his Facebook page on Wednesday evening.”

The 2009 photo was taken off the church’s website and “a version showing a watch on his wrist” went in its place.  See here a version of the photo with the watch on his wrist.

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The church released a statement apologizing for the doctoring, which it called a “technical mistake” and a “rude violation of our internal ethics.”  The church added “Employees of the press service’s photo-editing desk made a silly mistake while working with the photo archives.”

According to Ria Novosti, “The deputy head of the patriarch’s press service, Alexander Volkov, said that the photo was airbrushed by a 24-year-old female employee ‘on her own personal inexperienced initiative'” and without the “approval from her supervisors.”

According to Reuters, the church’s spokesperson, Deacon Alexander Volkov, called it “unethical” to discuss Kirill’s “private life” and “what watch the patriarch wears.”

The New York Times noted that “three days before the photo-doctoring scandal ht the blogosphere, in an interview with a prominent Kremlin-friendly television journalist, Vladimir Solovyov,” Kirill said he hadn’t worn the watch, a gift, before.

We have written to the Russian Orthodox Church for comment and will update with any response.

UPDATE: 4/11/2012: 4:39 PM EST: Our e-mail to the Russian Orthodox Church was returned with a note that the mailbox was “over quota.”

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Russian Church Apologizes for Doctored Photo on Website

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