Russia's leader of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster has been arrested amid claims he's an opposition im-pasta.

Mikhail Iosilevich, 43, faces up to six years in prison after pledging allegiance to a god made of spaghetti and meatballs.

The head of the country's "pastafarians" won a legal battle for the right to pose with a sieve on his head for his driving licence last year.

But he was arrested after giving lectures allegedly organised by banned opposition group Open Russia, The Times reports.

They were held last month for independent election monitors at his Church's premises in Nizhny Novgorod, about 250 miles east of Moscow.

His home was raided after he was accused of having links to the movement which is funded by an exiled former oligarch Mikhail Khodorkovsky.

Mr Iosilevich has denied having any connections with Open Russia.

He claimed the charges were in revenge for his opposition to a construction project on a local green space.

Meanwhile Open Russia accused investigators of mixing up Nizhny Novgorod with Veliky Novgorod, another city 600 miles away.

  • Pastafarian politician sworn into office wearing pasta strainer on his head

The group said it had no presence in Nizhny as it denied holding training sessions for would-be opposition politicians on the dates in question.

Mr Iosilevich parody religion "worships" a deity made of spaghetti and meatballs.

Its first church was established in the United States in 2005 and followers are known as pastafarians.

Last year Mr Iosilevich sucessfully argued in the courts that a sieve was a sacred symbol of his faith and that he could wear one as a hat for his driving licence.

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