Staunton, January 22 – Bishop Yevtikhiy, the former vicar of the Moscow Patriarchate’s Moscow eparchate and now the pastor of the Orthodox cathedral in Ishim has called on Russian Orthodox Believes “to in no case vote for Putin on March 18,” calling the Kremlin leader “a dark cloud” and even “anti-Christian” figure.
Other Orthodox priests have made similar appeals, Aleksandr Soldatov writes in Novaya gazeta today “but not of the serving hierarchs of the Moscow Patriarch.” Patriarch Kirill in fact has limited himself to calling on Russian to vote but not saying how they should cast their ballots (novayagazeta.ru/articles/2018/01/22/75230-pomazannik-okazalsya-antihristom).
In a recent post on his VKontakte page, the bishop said that “if you consider that there is light within you … then voting for the dark” is totally unacceptable. By his remarks about the similarity between communism and Christianity, Yevtikhiy added, Putin had shown himself to be not of the light but of the dark.
As Soldatov observes, “it is no secret that in Putin’s ideas about Orthodoxy there is a great deal which is incompatible with Orthodox Christianity, but the official Russian Orthodox church which has agreed to play the role of the ideological department of the regime and the patriarch’s business project has encouraged the synthesis of the cross and the five-pointed star.”
Many Orthodox faithful and even some deacons and priests like Andrey Kurayev have complained about this. Indeed, Deacon Kurayev has posted a screenshot of the bishop’s declaration on his own web page lest Yevtikhy be forced to take it down or even recant in the coming days.
According to Soldatov, the bishop’s biography may explain why he is showing such independent mindedness. As a priest in the 1980s, he got into trouble with his own church bosses. Later, he joined with the new congregations of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad which opened parishes in Russia.
Then, however, he got into difficulties with them and played a major role in promoting “’the reunification’ of the two churches, after which time he retired from his Moscow post and received “the sinecure” in his own home town of Ishim. By breaking with the official line in this way, however, Yevtikhiy may make it easier for other Russians to do the same.