Controversies of Kirill I of Moscow

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This is a list of controversies of Kirill I of Moscow.

Links with the KGB[edit]

Patriarch Kirill at Easter 2011

In the early 1990s and later on, Kirill was accused of having links to the KGB during much of the Soviet period, as were many members of the Russian Orthodox Church hierarchy, and of pursuing the state’s interests before those of the Church.[1][2][3][4][5][6] His alleged KGB agent’s codename was "Mikhailov".[7]

Importation of cigarettes[edit]

Journalists of the newspapers Kommersant and Moskovskij Komsomolets accused Kirill of profiteering and abuse of the privilege of duty-free importation of cigarettes granted to the Church in the mid-1990s and dubbed him "Tobacco Metropolitan".[8] The Department for External Church Relations was alleged to have acted as the largest supplier of foreign cigarettes in Russia.[9] Kirill’s personal wealth was estimated to be $1.5 billion by sociologist Nikolai Mitrokhin in 2004, and at $4 billion by The Moscow News in 2006.[6][10] However, Nathaniel Davis noted that "...There is no evidence that Metropolitan Kirill has actually embezzled funds. What is more likely is that profits from the importation of tobacco and cigarettes have been used for urgent, pressing Church expenses."[9] The duty-free importation of cigarettes ended in 1997.[9] In his 2002 interview with Izvestia, Metropolitan Kirill called the allegations about his profiteering a political campaign against him.[11]

Pussy Riot and accusations of extravagance[edit]

Three female members of an anarchist artistic group called Pussy Riot were arrested in March 2012 for performing a brief song in the Christ the Saviour Cathedral in Moscow during which they called on the Virgin Mary to "chase Putin out".[12] The women (two of them mothers) were arrested for hooliganism, faced up to seven years in jail,[12] and were later sentenced to two years.[13] Commenting on the case, Kirill said they were "doing the work of Satan" and should be punished[citation needed]. This sparked criticism of the Orthodox Church on the Runet for not showing mercy, while Amnesty International described the women as "prisoners of conscience".[12] Bloggers also began to openly criticise Kirill's perceived extravagant lifestyle: when accused of wearing a Swiss Breguet watch worth over £20,000, Kirill denied having worn it, saying that any photographs showing him wearing it must be fakes. However, photographs on his official website showed it on his wrist[12] and one even showed it airbrushed out, but with a reflection of it still visible on a table surface.[14] Kirill responded by saying that "the guilty ones [for the image manipulation] will be punished severely".[14] A spokesperson added that it was "unethical" to discuss Kirill's private life, and the Russian Orthodox Church said on 4 April 2012 that foreign forces were taking revenge on it for supporting Putin: "The attacks have become more prominent during the pre-election and post-election period [... This] shows their political and also anti-Russian motives."[12]

"Gold" dust of the Patriarch[edit]

In March 2012, the former RF Health minister (1999–2004) Yury Shevchenko, pursuant to the court ruling, paid about 20 million rubles ($676,000) in compensation for the dust resultant from the renovation work that had settled in a flat upstairs in the prestigious House on the Embankment privately owned by Gundyayev (Patriarch Kirill) and occupied by the Patriarch's long-time friend businesswoman Lidia Leonova.[15][16][17] According to the media reports, the former minister is personally acquainted with the then RF prime-minister Vladimir Putin.[18]

"I sold my apartment in St. Petersburg, and we paid the required sum," said Shevchenko's son, also Yury, in early April 2012.[19]

According to the lawsuit, renovation works in Shevchenko's apartment stirred up a lot of dust, which settled on a collection of valuable books owned by Kirill. The Patriarch confirmed his ownership of the dusty apartment in a private conversation with journalist Vladimir Solovyov.[20]

Most of the reports in the media tended to be critical of Patriarch Kirill and laughing at the claims that the dust was harmful, pointing out that it was just sand and it would have been far more efficient to just hire a maid to vacuum it up.[21] The Patriarch himself then said he thought it to be inappropriate to forgive Shevchenko.[22]

Silver Shoe Award[edit]

In June, 2012, Kirill was given the Silver Shoe Award (given in Russia each year “for the most dubious achievements in show business") for "immaculate disappearance of a watch” in the category "Miracles up to the elbows”. The award found a pained reaction from representatives of the Russian Orthodox Church [23]

Nomination for Nobel Prize[edit]

In 2012 the Russian Consumer Rights Protection Society sued the church management for alleged commercial operations in Cathedral of Christ the Saviour. Church representatives stated in court that goods dispensed for money in the cathedral were actually religious items handed out as free gifts in exchange for voluntary "recommended donations." Judge Kananovich agreed with this reasoning and defeated the claim. In August 2012 Mikhail Anashkov, the head of the Consumer Rights Protection Society, in his sarcastic open letter nominated Kirill and Kananovich for the Nobel Prize in Economics because they disproved the basic tenet of the economic theory that defines the exchange of goods for money as "commerce".[24]

Same sex marriage and the Apocalypse[edit]

In August 2013, Kirill publicly spoke out against gay rights, declaring same sex marriage a sign of the impending Apocalypse. [25][26][27]

Gay Sex Scandal at Kazan Theological Academy[edit]

However in December 2013 there were reports throughout the Russian Media that there had been a scandal at the Kazan Theological Seminary involving homosexual conduct between teachers and ordinands for which an Archimandrite who was the Vice-Rector had been dismissed. The matter was reported by Protodeacon Andrei Kuraev who was summarily removed from his post on the Patriarch's Theological Commission merely for commenting on the scandal. [28]


  1. ^ Tony Halpin, "Russian Orthodox Church choses between 'ex-KGB candidates' as Patriarch". The Times (of London) online, January 26, 2009.
  2. ^ (Russian)Митрополит Кирилл попал в поле зрения американской газеты The Washington Times January 26, 2005.
  3. ^ (Russian)Разведка России использует Эстонскую Православную Церковь Simon Araloff, AIA European section, May 17, 2006.[dead link]
  4. ^ (Russian) Американская газета назвала митрополита Кирилла возможным преемником Алексия II
  5. ^ (Russian)Священник Георгий Эдельштейн опасается, что патриархом станет «офицер КГБ, атеист и порочный человек» May 27, 2003.
  6. ^ a b (Russian)Божественные голоса The New Times № 50, December 15, 2008.[dead link]
  7. ^ Halpin, Tony (January 26, 2009). "Russian Orthodox Church chooses between 'ex-KGB candidates' as Patriarch". London: Times Online. Retrieved 2009-01-26. 
  8. ^ Митрополит Смоленский и Калининградский Кирилл
  9. ^ a b c Nathaniel Davis (2000). Tribulations, trials and Troubles for the Russian Orthodox Church[dead link]. Religion in Eastern Europe 20 (6): 39–50.
  10. ^ (Russian)Уходящий год ознаменовался историческим событием: две разделенные части Православной Церкви — Русская Православная Церковь (РПЦ) и Русская Православная Церковь Заграницей (РПЦЗ) — подписали Акт о каноническом общении The New Times № 46, December 24, 2007[dead link]
  11. ^ Митрополит Кирилл: «Пусть благословенье Божье пребывает со всеми нами» Izvestia, December 24, 2002.
  12. ^ a b c d e Walker, Shaun (April 5, 2012). "Plight of punk rockers turns Russians against the Church". London: The Independent. Retrieved April 6, 2012. 
  13. ^ Pussy Riot sentenced to two years in prison colony for hooliganism | Music |
  14. ^ a b "Russia's Patriarch Kirill in furore over luxury watch". BBC. April 5, 2012. Retrieved April 6, 2012. 
  15. ^ Unorthodox behaviour rattles Russian church Financial Times, April 14, 2012 (paper edition).
  16. ^ The strange case of the Patriarch, some sand, and 20 million rouble lawsuit
  17. ^ Ex-Minister Made to Pay Over 'Toxic Dust' Moscow Times, April 9, 2012
  18. ^ Думали, что однофамилец
  19. ^ Сын хирурга Шевченко рассказал о конфликте вокруг «квартиры патриарха»
  20. ^ Former Minister Pays For 'Dusting' Patriarch's Flat | Russia | RIA Novosti
  21. ^ The strange case of the Patriarch, some sand, and 20 million rouble lawsuit – Siberian Light
  22. ^ Патриарх Кирилл прокомментировал суд за соседскую квартиру: простить обидчика было бы "некорректно" NEWSru, March 30, 2012.
  23. ^ Patriarch Awarded Shoe, Saint-Petersburg Times, June 21, 2012.
  24. ^ Watchdog Pegs Patriarch Kirill for Nobel Prize in Econ, RIA Novosti, August 9, 2012.
  25. ^ Erasmus Religion and public policy (2013-08-22). "Bishops, generals and presidents: Onward Christian soldiers". The Economist. Retrieved 2013-09-15. 
  26. ^ "Russian Orthodox Patriarch Calls Gay Marriage Legalization 'Apocalyptic Symptom'". 2013-07-23. Retrieved 2013-09-15. 
  27. ^ Felicity Morse (2013-08-28). "Putin says pants to painting: Artist flees Russia as portrait of President in women's underwear confiscated from art gallery - News - Art". London: The Independent. Retrieved 2013-09-15. 
  28. ^