Sunday, February 17, 2019

Moscow Orthodox Leaders Cooperated with KGB Did to Show Loyalty and Help Church, Putin’s Man in ROC MP Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, February 16 – With some sad exceptions, most Russian Orthodox hierarchs and priests who cooperated with the Soviet security agencies did so to show loyalty and help the church, according to Metropolitan Tikhon of Pskov, who said that he had been approached by the KGB in 1989 but refused, something perestroika made possible.

            Tikhon, widely viewed as Vladimir Putin’s favorite in the church  hierarchy and thus the odds’ on favorite to succeed Patriarch Kirill, made that remark in the course of a long interview he gave to Jaanus Piirsalu of Estonia’s Postimees newspaper (

            The Soviet Union “was a state with an atheist ideology,” he says. “Priests and believers understood that to preserve church services, schools and their culture, an individual had to remain loyal to the political system. The overwhelming majority of believers lived without staining their conscious by betrayal and subordinating themselves to evil.”

            “This is obvious to every objective researcher,” the metropolitan continued, “although there were some sad exceptions.”

            Tikhon says that his own spiritual father had to write denunciations to the KGB’s predecessor in the early 1950s. “But thank God, these were relatively rare cases.  There are many examples among hierarchs, especially now, when materials of their cases have become accessible which on the contrary defended the interests of the church and believers.”

            Consider Patriarch Aleksii II, who was closely linked to Estonia, Tikhon continues. So much abuse has been heaped on him, but when he was metropolitan in Estonia, “he could not refuse to cooperate with the state administration for religious affairs, which itself was part of the security system.  By cooperating, he saved many church institutions and many believers.

            Had Aleksii refused, Tikhon says, the church would have lost a great deal. Nonetheless, other religious leaders had the possibility of refusing without such consequences and many did. The metropolitan adds that he was approached by the KGB in 1989 but “simply said ‘no.’ In this there was nothing heroic as this was already at the end of the 1980s” and things had changed.

            Among many other observations Tikhon made, the following stand out:

·         General Vlasov who cooperated with Hitler was a traitor but one cannot say that all those who worked for him were.

·         Russia today resembles the first half of the rule of Alexander III. “Russia then also was under sanctions” by the West after the Crimean War.

·         Russia is fated to be an empire, but “an empire and imperialism are completely different things.” An empire is simply a country where many different peoples are ruled by a single center. “Whether one likes this or not, Russia by its structure is an imperial state. This is not the occasion for pride or stupid vanity.”

·         Metropolitan Tikhon says that he considers it “absolutely correct” that the ROC MP is not “a state church.”

·         Any state, including a democratic one, will seek to weaken the church in order to boost its own power. “The church must always be prepared for this.” At the same time, “the church cannot and must not interfere in government affairs.” It can and must, however, express its views on important questions.

·         Many have called Tikhon an anti-Westerner, but he says that he “doesn’t consider himself one.” 

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