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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Church Names Patron Saint of Tax Police

The Orthodox Church has named the apostle Matthew patron saint of the country's feared tax police, the Segodnya newspaper reported Thursday.

Russian tax police -- known for storming buildings in black ski masks to conduct an audit -- have had something of a public relations problem, as did the widely despised Roman tax collectors, or "publicans," of biblical times.

St. Matthew was a publican, before giving up the profession to follow Jesus. In Matthew's book of the Bible, Jesus frequently lumps tax collectors along with prostitutes as being allowed to enter heaven if they accept God.

Segodnya quoted tax police spokesman Yury Tretyakov as saying the agency had won the support of the Church in part by helping to renovate a cathedral located in part on the territory of its headquarters.

"It is not just a fashion statement, and we are not planning to make our heavenly protection into a cult," Segodnya quoted him as saying.

"It simply means that tax police will have another holiday, Nov. 29, St. Matthew's Day."