This not-so-glorious title sticks to her crown. Patriarch Kirill, the spiritual leader of 150 million Orthodox believers around the world, was awarded the title “Tobacco Capital” (paradox). His fortune Flirting, religious leader fond of skiing and luxury watches, at the head of the Russian Orthodox Church since 2009, he built in the 90s, according to the best experts, on the cigarette trade. With the blessing of the Russian authorities, and by taking advantage of the tax breaks that the Church benefits from. The 75-year-old Patriarch Kirill belongs to the restricted circle of prominent figures in the regime, and he, in turn, is threatened with sanctions by the European Commission.
Since the beginning of the conflict, the religious leader, whose real name is Vladimir Gundyaev, has doubled down on his statements of support for “special operation”And The term devoted by Russian power to the invasion of Ukraine. On February 27, Kirill sparked a confrontation with “forces of evil” World Health Organization “Fight loneliness” history between the two countries. On Yom Kippur, March 6, which marks the beginning of Lent in the Orthodox liturgy, he gave a sermon in an apocalyptic tone, invoking spiritual reasons to justify the war, and he also attacked the organization of gay pride, a symbol in his eyes of decadence. from the West. “What is happening today is not only a matter of politics but of man’s salvation,” Then he shouts.
Unlike his grandfather, an Orthodox priest who suffered from Stalin’s wrath, the patriarch is a pure product of Soviet religious style. At the age of nineteen he entered school in his native city, Leningrad (Saint Petersburg), and after four years became a monk, a condition for climbing the pyramid of the Orthodox churches; Only monks become bishops there. Before assuming the head of the Department of Foreign Relations of the Moscow Patriarchate, in 1989, Metropolitan Kirill was the institution’s representative in the Ecumenical Council of Churches located in Geneva, the most important global organization of Christian churches. . Kirill, the KGB agent? In view of the responsibilities he exercised before the fall of the Soviet Empire, it is highly probable. His spy code name: “Mikhailov” According to articles published in the Russian press during the 1990s, and according to frequent reports, the patriarch is the proud owner of a chalet in Switzerland and a luxurious apartment in a posh district of Moscow.
In 2009, Kirill assumed the presidency of the Moscow Patriarchate, succeeding Alexis II. For the past ten years, he has been one of Vladimir Putin’s biggest supporters, and has been calling him God’s miracle. In the nationalist view, Orthodoxy is the basis of Russian identity and Putin has clearly established a continuity between communism and Christianity. It is also invoked in the struggle against the West, for example in defense of traditional family values. Researcher Kathy Rossellette, a specialist in religions in the post-Soviet era, explains.
“Inability to influence the political track”
Even if he took up the cause of the war in Ukraine, Patriarch Kirill does not belong to the circle of direct influence with the master of the Kremlin. Even, according to some specialists, he may have gone through a period of disgrace after the annexation of Crimea. And competitors will already be ready to part with him. In fact, another clergyman, Metropolitan Tikhon Chevkunov – some people whisper, probably incorrectly, that he will be Putin’s spiritual guide – plays a major role: he is one of the inventors of the Russian nationalist novel. Documentary filmmaker, designed the exhibition “La Russie, mon Histoire” which flew in 23 cities.
“In the Soviet representations there are intertwined national accounts that illustrate the history of the Russian Empire closely with the history of the Russian Orthodox Church, Cathy Rousselet continues. The current attitude of the Patriarch towards this fratricidal war testifies to his weakness and inability to influence the political course of Russia. This also explains the commitment of some members to the policy of Vladimir Putin. In short, the patriarch is perhaps a tool in Putin’s hands. This does not in any way absolve him of his responsibility. About Yves Hammant who specializes in Russia, “By adopting the aggressor’s cause, Kirill risks losing much of his power in the Orthodox world.”