Saturday, August 20, 2022

Rumors Flying that Metropolitan Tikhon, Putin’s Favorite Churchman, May Soon Head ROC in St. Petersburg

Paul Goble

            Staunton, July 24 – The Tserkvach Telegram Channel is reporting that the governor of St. Petersburg, Aleksandr Beglov, is seeking to have Metropolitan Tikhon of Pskov, well-known as Vladimir Putin’s favorite churchman, become metropolitan of the Northern capital, a position that would give him additional chances of succeeding Patriarch Kirill as head of the ROC MP.

            But religious affairs commentator Stanislav Volkov says that while Beglov would welcome having Tikhon in his city, the metropolitan may be less interested in the move than some are suggesting. Indeed, he may believe his influence and chances for ultimate advancement are higher if he stays in Pskov (

            On the one hand, Pskov is the site of a monastery many prominent Russians, including Putin, like to visit and a wealthy one at that. And on the other, taking the job in Petersburg would be bureaucratically challenging and involve in Tikhon in high church politics in ways that might make it more likely he would stumble and fall before becoming patriarch.

             Kirill certainly has no interest in giving Tikhon a leg up, Volkov says; and because his position at least nominally is a lifetime appointment, he likely doesn’t fear being pushed aside before his death, although in Russia, such an outcome can never be fully excluded or even a premature death arranged.

            But there is a more profound reason why Kirill isn’t about to allow this to happen: leaders of the church and even foreign governments would read the appointment of Tikhon to the St. Petersburg see as a sign that the current patriarch has been forced to retreat “beyond the Urals” and is no longer the effective head of the Russian church.

            That is an outcome Kirill doesn’t want and can be counted on to do everything to prevent, seeing Tikhon’s current exile in Pskov as a far better option for himself. What is interesting is that Tikhon personally may agree even if his supporters outside the church like Beglov  are now making noises about moving him.

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