Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Putin’s Tilt Away from Kirill Continues: Patriarch Gets Phone Call, Not Visit on His Birthday

Paul Goble

            Staunton, November 21 – Vladimir Putin’s anger at Patriarch Kirill, underscored this week by his visit to Metropolitan Tikhon in Pskov (, continued today when the Kremlin leader telephoned rather than visited the church leader on his birthday (

            In past years, Putin has visited Kirill, a sign of special recognition and support. Consequently, his decision not to visit him this year will be viewed by many in the Russian Orthodox Church and Russia more generally as an indication that Kirill, after the autocephaly crisis in Ukraine, is very much out of favor.

            That will weaken the churchman’s position, but Leonid Radzikhovsky argues that while Kirill is weakened by all this, the possibility that he would leave office as Pope Benedict XVI did in the Roman Catholic Church is “zero.”  There simply is no way to force Kirill to leave (

                Forcing out Kirill would not be to Putin’s advantage, the Russian commentator says. On the one hand, it would be such a crude power play that it would cost the Kremlin leader far more than he would gain, especially given that there would always be the chance that a Patriarch Tikhon would take his new position more seriously than friendship, just as Thomas Beckett did.

            Moreover, on the other hand, such an action would weaken the ROC MP at a time when it is already reeling from the developments in Ukraine and world Orthodoxy and the prospects that the retreat of the Russian church will spread into other countries as well. That wouldn’t serve Putin’s interest either. 

            Kirill has clearly suffered a defeat over Ukraine and lost some of the support he had with Putin.  But even that may not be enough to cause Putin to move, Radzikhovsky says. After all, the Kremlin leader has protected the disastrous Dmitry Rogozin despite one failure after another from dismissal and possible criminal charges.

            Further, in Kirill’s case as in Rogozin’s, “there is no connection between the results of action and the rewards [Putin will hand out] for it.”

No comments:

Post a Comment