Staunton, Nov. 21 – Diomid, who as ROC bishop in Chukota before being stripped of that rank by the Moscow Patriarchate, has died in an automobile accident near St. Petersburg. Given that this occurred on Patriarch Kirill’s birthday, some of his followers are likely to suspect foul play as many Russians did when Anna Politkovskaya was killed on Putin’s birthday in 2006.
(For reports about his death from his followers and independent media outlets, see sinod-prc.livejournal.com/22480.html, ahilla.ru/v-avtokatastrofe-pogib-lishennyj-episkopskogo-sana-diomid-dzyuban/nd ng.ru/faith/2021-11-21/8_8306_diomid.html. The ROC MP has so far refrained from any public comment.)
While bishop, Diomid was a thorn in the side of the Moscow Patriarchate and then-Metropolitan and now Patriarch Kirill’s in particular, accusing both of apostasy, betraying Orthodox principles and engaging in ecumenical activities. That led the church leadership to oust him from his position and strip him of his clerical rank.
(For background on Diomid, see windowoneurasia.blogspot.com/2008/07/window-on-eurasia-orthodox-schism.html, windowoneurasia.blogspot.com/2008/08/window-on-eurasia-diomid-tapping-into.html, windowoneurasia.blogspot.com/2008/07/window-on-eurasia-bishop-diomid-raises.html, windowoneurasia.blogspot.com/2008/06/window-on-eurasia-diomid-case.html and windowoneurasia.blogspot.com/2008/07/window-on-eurasia-how-much-support-does.html.)
Since 2008, the dissident churchman has formed what he claims is the true Orthodox Church of Russia, something the Moscow Patriarchate has regularly denounced, fearing that he serves as a model for possible moves toward autocephaly at the regional level in Russia, but has been unable to block. With Diomid’s death, that threat has been reduced.
In his obituary of Diomid, Aleksandr Soldatov, a specialist on Orthodoxy, suggests that that threat has not gone away. Yes, he writes, Diomid’s “attempt to challenge the Leviathan was largely unsuccessful and even ridiculous; and the Leviathan did not forgive him” (novayagazeta.ru/articles/2021/11/22/zagadochnaia-gibel-chukotskogo-savonaroly).
“But his attempt demonstrated that even in the closed and carefully monitored corporation that is the episcopate of the Russian Orthodox Church,” the religious affairs specialist says, “unexpected outbursts of protest are possible and ‘there is room for a heroic feat.’” That is just what Kirill must live with even after what appears to have been a most appreciated birthday present.