The Czech Republic placed the first Russian on the national sanctions list. The person in question is Patriarch Kirill of Moscow, the head of the Russian Orthodox Church.
The Russian patriarch prays for a quick end to the conflict in Ukraine (April 23, 2022) | Video: Reuters
He preaches about the moral decay of the West and is categorically against any tolerance of homosexuality. He is a staunch ally of President Vladimir Putin and advocates his invasion of Ukraine.
Kirill avoids any criticism or condemnation of the attack on Ukraine. At Easter he only stated that he hoped for a quick end to it. “Russia is a peaceful country that suffers greatly from war,” Kirill told soldiers at the Armed Forces Orthodox Church in Kubinka, near Moscow. It is a giant structure that is decorated with paintings of Russian or Soviet soldiers from wars in various historical periods.
In early April, during a sermon in Moscow, he said that Russians should unite around their leadership. “Why have foreign powers taken up arms against the Russian land? Why are they trying to destroy, divide, set brother against brother?” RIA Novosti quoted the patriarch as saying. The head of the Orthodox Church officially supports Putin’s view that Russia was threatened by Ukraine and had to defend itself.
Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, Vladimir Putin and Patriarch Kirill in front of the Temple of the Armed Forces near Moscow. | Photo: Reuters
Literary historian, religionist and Russian expert Martin C. Putna told the newspaper Aktuálně.cz that he is not at all surprised by Kirill’s support of Vladimir Putin. “The Russian Orthodox Church is completely in the grip of state power,” he said. According to him, Russia resembles a Muslim theocracy like Iran: the church relies on the state and the state on the church.
On Czech Radio, Putna spoke out sharply critical of the patriarch: “Kirill is a curmudgeon, a monster, Putin’s servant. He is a person who represents the worst form of Orthodoxy.”
“They serve Putin”
Secret Soviet documents released in 1992 revealed that the Soviet KGB intelligence service kept Kirill in its archives as its operative under the cover name of Mikhailov. The seventy-five-year-old patriarch – whose civil name is Vladimir Gundayev – never commented on it.
Pope Francis had planned a meeting with Kirill this June, but canceled it. In an interview with the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera this week, he said that “the patriarch cannot become Putin’s minister”.
“Putin and Kirill share a vision of the Russian world that combines spiritual unity and territorial expansion into the countries of the former Soviet Union. What Putin sees as the restoration of political conditions is for Kirill a crusade,” Reuters wrote in an analysis.
In an open letter, the General Secretary of the World Council of Churches, Reverend Ioan Sauca, recently called on the patriarch to personally advocate for an end to the war in Ukraine. “Forces hostile to Russia have approached its borders, and the West is trying to weaken Russia through a grand geopolitical strategy,” Kirill wrote to him.
The conflict in Ukraine also has an ecclesiastical dimension. As the highest cleric of the Russian Orthodox Church, Kirill is considered the head of believers in Ukraine as well. However, in addition to the church that recognizes Kirill (Moscow Patriarchate), there is also a Ukrainian Orthodox Church that is independent of Moscow and recognizes Kyiv Metropolitan Onufriy as its head. However, Russian politicians and Orthodox clergy do not recognize this church, and President Putin, enumerating alleged Ukrainian anti-Russian sins, claimed that the Russian Orthodox Church faces discrimination in Ukraine.
Half a million watches
After the Bolshevik victory in Russia in 1917, the Orthodox Church faced persecution, but after the Soviet Union was invaded by Germany in 1941, Stalin used it to his advantage to get people to support him more. After his death, Nikita Khrushchev began a campaign of church demolition and demolition. At the same time, the church was infiltrated by agents and workers of the KGB.
A symbol of a kind of resurrection of the Orthodox Church in Russia was the construction of a replica of the Cathedral of Christ the Savior in the center of Moscow in 2000, when Putin assumed the presidency. The original tabernacle was ordered to be torn down by Stalin in the 1930s, with the idea that in its place would be the huge Palace of Soviets with a statue of Lenin. But it was never completed and there was a swimming pool there for several decades.
Kirill has been the head of the Russian Orthodox Church since 2009. Three years later, he attracted attention and ridicule by being photographed wearing a luxury expensive watch. For the patriarchy website, someone edited the photo to remove them, but forgot about their reflection on the shiny table. It was a Breguet watch, which is worth over half a million crowns.
Video: Why are you treating me like a sucker? A famous Russian actor condemned the invasion
Part of an interview with Russian actor Artur Smoljaninov for the YouTube channel Tell Gordjevova. | Video: Youtube / Odessa Film Studio
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