A Russian priest has been suspended and police are investigating after a one-year-old boy suffered scratches during a violent baptism.

Video showed of Father Foty Necheporenko, a Russian Orthodox abbot, plunge the child roughly into a font that appeared to be too small.

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He is seen pushing on his face to submerge him and knocking his head against the sides.

The boy’s mother Anastasia Alexeeva, 24, desperately tried to intervene – saying “let him go, he’s in pain” – but the priest continued.

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Following the incident involving her son Demid at the Marienburg Church in Gatchina near St Petersburg: “He did everything to hurt the child. He saw that he was big, that it was not possible to dive him into such a small font.

“He had to splash the water on his head. But still he decided to do it his way. The little one was crying and wriggling.

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“I was afraid, I ran to him. I tried to take the child away. I nearly caught fire myself because my scarf touched the candles around the font.”

Ms Alexeeva says Demid sustained scratches on his shoulder and neck and suffers from “panic and hysteria”.

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But Fr Necheporenko defended his actions and said: “The baby did not swallow any water, he did not hit the walls of the baptismal font.

“I have been serving for 26 years and I have always christened children like this. I performed my church duty.”

The church has suspended Fr Necheporenko for a year and police are now investigating.

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