Serbian Orthodox Church retires spiritual leader of Kosovo Serbs over embezzlement

BELGRADE, Serbia (AP) — The Serbian Orthodox Church says Archbishop Artemije will no longer be its spiritual leader in Kosovo after allegations that millions in church and state funds were embezzled under his leadership.

The Holy Synod, the church's top body, announced the decision Tuesday. It is unclear when a permanent replacement would be named.

Artemije was based in Kosovo, which is considered the church's cultural heartland.

Artemije is known for his ultranationalist and anti-Western views. He had ordered his clergy to cease contact with Kosovo's ethnic Albanian authorities and the EU mission there after Kosovo declared independence from Serbia in 2008.

He has since been investigated by the church for the alleged mishandling of donations and government funds over several years.