Grigory Pasko: Church of the Siloviki

Editor’s note:  On 10 December of last year, less than a week after the death of the incumbent Patriarch of All the Russias, Alexiy II, our Russia Correspondent Grigory Pasko made a bold prediction, inconspicuously tucked away in a corner of an article about a phenomenon he referred to as The «Russian Federation» Corporation.

For those of you who missed it, Grigory Pasko prophesied that the next Patriarch of All the Russias, freely elected by a conclave of all the bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church, would be a certain Metropolitan Kirill of Smolensk and Kaliningrad, a figure “closely associated” with Igor Sechin – himself a figure “closely associated” with just about everything that generates big money in Putin’s Russia.


As is so often the case in Russia today, the future turns out to be rather easy to predict, but still we’d like to boast that you heard the news of Kirill’s election first right here on our blog more than a month and a half before it actually happened. – Editor

God – giveth, God – taketh away…

Grigory Pasko, journalist

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A Local Council of the Russian Orthodox Church on 27 January elected Metropolitan of Smolensk and Kaliningrad Kirill as Patriarch of Moscow and All the Russias. In his speech after the election, the yclept Patriarch asked all believers to help him and to be with him.
I watched the election ceremony on TV. I couldn’t help but notice how nicely the Church of Christ the Saviour was bedecked: the beauty and opulence, the splendour and magnificence overwhelm.

That same day, certain Russian mass information media reported about how the jeep of archbishop of Yaroslavl and Rostov Kirill (a different Kirill; this one is known in real life as Mikhail Nakonechny) had been stolen in the center of Moscow. The cost of the automobile – around 1.5 million rubles [still over $40 thsd., even at today’s precipitously falling exchange rate–Trans.].

They’re writing that the server of the cult [a vestigial Soviet term for “clergyman”–Trans.] had filed a declaration at the local division with the police with a request to find what had been stolen. And I’m thinking: why? God – giveth, God – taketh away. After all, it wasn’t out of his salary that the spiritual father had acquired the luxury auto produced beyond the border…

And I’m also thinking: how should we now understand these words: from Matthew 6:19-21 «Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also».

Colleagues from German TV told about some village (either Tver or Moscow oblasts) where half-impoverished parishioners decided to gold-plate the onion-domes of their little church (the sum they named was huge; unfortunately, I don’t remember what it was). Now there is a church standing there with luxurious radiant cupolas surrounded by old half-collapsed wooden huts.

Of course, this is the problems and joys of the believing parishioners. But why were all the tawdry trappings of elections (urns, ballot slips, policemen…) for the conducting of a Local Council provided by the Russian state, that is, at the expense of the taxpayers, including non-believers?

Metropolitan Kirill, speaking for the first time in the capacity of the yclept Patriarch, also said: «I ask to have leniency towards my weaknesses, I ask to help me with your wise counsel…» It goes without saying that it’s not about himself, a sinner, that his eminence was speaking, but about the entire church.

Okay, then, let us indeed be lenient towards THEIR weaknesses. All the more so, given that I don’t see an alternative.

Photo:  Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin (L) meets on February 2, 2009with Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill in Moscow. Kirill is seen byexperts as a forceful traditionalist, who believes the Church should play a strong role in society and who could create headaches for Russia‘s political leaders with his outspoken views (AFP/Getty Images).