Russian Orthodox Church and KGB

By Slava Tsukerman

Russian Orthodox Church leaders and Putin

Russian Orthodox Church leaders and Putin

Russian Orthodox Church (ROC) is an extremely wealthy organization. It’s 2013 revenues totaled 4.6 billion rubles ($153 millions). A large part of its riches comes from Putin’s government.

According to the popular web site, the Kremlin allocated 958 million rubles from the Russia’s budget to the ROC just for the 2015 program for “Strengthening the unity of the Russian nation.” In May of this year, 1.1 billion rubles have been already spent for creation of 23 “spiritual education” ROC organizations. Each of the organizations received an average of 25-30 million rubles. All together the federal budget of Russia is ready to allocate 2 billion rubles for the creation of spiritual and educational centers for the ROC.

The words of Patriarch Kirill that were directed to Russian president Vladimir Putin, which were nationally broadcast by the Channel One of the Russian TV, are widely known among Russians:

“I should tell openly, since I am Patriarch, whose duty is to tell only the truth, disregarding political situation or demands of propaganda, I should tell that you personally, Vladimir Vladimirovich, played a decisive role in the final straightening of the crooked line of the Russian history.”

Earlier, in his other published conversation with Putin, Patriarch stated:

“It is a great pleasure for me, as the Primate of the Russian Orthodox Church, to know that today, in the new reality of church-state relations, there was created with your direct involvement the right conditions for further fruitful cooperation between the Church and the apparatus of the Russian government, it’s many ministries and agencies. Together we will take care of the moral health of our society, the strengthening of peace and social harmony, and increase the international prestige of Russia.”

Where are the roots of so effective understanding, love and cooperation between the church and contemporary leadership of Russia?

Lev Ponomaryov, a well-known Russian human rights activist and Executive Director of the Russian National Movement For Human Rights, who in 1991 was a head of the Parliamentary Commission studying activity of the last communists’ anti–Gorbachev plot, recently told the Russian newspaper Express:

“Specific research concerning the relationship of the Church and KGB was professionally led by a member of our commission, dissident priest Gleb Yakunin. He, like I, also was a Member of Parliament and had the opportunity to work in the archives of the KGB.

“In particular, he studied the working documents of the 5th department of the KGB, which was engaged in spying on ‘internal enemies of the state’. It was, in fact, the political police with a well-developed network of agents spread throughout society.

Yakunin found the documents proving that all (!) top functionaries of Russian Orthodox Church were recruited by the KGB. Among others there was then Patriarch Alexy II. His undercover KGB agent’s nickname was Drozdov. Militantly atheistic Soviet government awarded Patriarch Alexy II the Red Banner and Friendship of Peoples Orders. In 1988 – he was awarded even a special diploma of the KGB …”

In truth, not only the entire Orthodox Church leadership was permeated by KGB agents, but also the leadership of Muslims and all other religions represented in the Soviet Union. After the fall of communism, some of them confessed that previously collaborated with the KGB.

Lithuanian Archbishop Chrysostomos found the courage to confirm his undercover KGB past under the nickname “Restorer”. A KGB agent with the nickname of Aramis, who worked as a translator in the Department for External Church Relations of the Moscow Patriarchate, decided to repent in the newspaper Arguments and Facts (№ 8, 1992). He said that almost all the employees of the Department for External Church Relations of the Moscow Patriarchate had worked for KGB. At that time, from 1989 to 2009 the department was headed by the current Patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church Kirill.

Undercover KGB agent Vladimir Gundiayev

Undercover KGB agent Vladimir Gundiayev

Undercover KGB agent Vladimir Gundiayev (nickname Mikhailov), a representative of the Russian Orthodox Church to the World Council of Churches (WCC) in Geneva in 1971.

Now he is known as Kirill , the Patriarch of Moscow and all Russia.

Kirill , the Patriarch of Moscow and all Russia

Kirill , the Patriarch of Moscow and all Russia

This month a scandal broke concerning the current relations between the ROC and the Russian FSB (heir of the KGB). The FSB recalled their agent Eugene Petrin from the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (subordinate to Moscow Patriarchate) and arrested him for “treason.” Petrin claims to be the captain of the FSB who worked for the Russian Orthodox Church “undercover”.

Eugene Petrin himself had drawn attention to his colorful spy story, as he appealed to human rights activists with the request to protect him from the tyranny of the investigation, which, in his opinion, is due to internal competition between different groups in the security services.