President Putin and Kirill I was seen as honeymooners. Criticism by the Russian Orthodox Church is causing a stir (Image: Reuters/Afro)
The head of the Russian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Kirill I, is causing a stir with his comments.
He said, “I understand that the Church in Ukraine (which was under the umbrella of the Russian Orthodox Church) is suffering. The devil is trying to divide the Orthodox Christians in Russia and Ukraine, but he will never succeed. We should do the right thing for the lives of the Orthodox.”
The remarks were made on May 29 at Moscow’s Haristos Cathedral. Depending on one’s interpretation, the statement could be taken as a criticism of Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine. This is an unusual comment, considering that the president and the top head of the Orthodox church have enjoyed a rather supportive relationship. Itsuro Nakamura, a professor at Tsukuba Gakuin University and an expert on the situation in Russia, said, “The Russian Orthodox Church is a communist organization.”
The Russian Orthodox Church has been persecuted by the former Soviet Union, which considered communism to be the absolute system. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, it was President Vladimir Putin who revived the Russian Orthodox Church with financial support. He has treated the Russian Orthodox Church well, allowing them to do business. For President Putin, it is also the largest ‘olgarhi’ (emerging conglomerate) that supports him.
Putin’s goal is to build his authority. More than 60% of the population is Russian Orthodox. By having his picture displayed in the church, he has strengthened the tone of an autocratic leader. We have a holding relationship with the Russian Orthodox Church.
President Putin’s Real Illness
Why did the head of the Russian Orthodox Church, which has an interdependent relationship with President Putin, suddenly defy him? Nakamura continues.
The first is the situation in Ukraine, where the situation is untenable. His comments give the impression that he is concerned about the Ukrainian people, but he only wants to distance himself from President Putin, who is in a difficult position due to the continuing conflict.
Second, President Putin has a serious medical condition. His cancer might have has spread throughout his body and requires immediate medical attention. On June 12, the anniversary of his independence from the Soviet Union, he may report some war results in eastern Ukraine, resign from the presidency, and focus on recuperation. The Russian Orthodox Church may be considering the loss of Putin’s authority and deciding what its next course of action should be.
A defection by the Russian Orthodox Church, one of the largest support groups, would naturally be a major blow to President Putin.
“It would certainly be a blow, but Putin has no intention of giving up his power. It is said that he will name as his successor Dmitry Kovalev, the 36-year-old head of the presidential administration, who can maintain his influence. Passing the baton to the younger generation is a notice to the heavyweights in their 60s and 70s that their days are numbered,'” he said. “Eventually, he plans to have his son take over. The boy was born in December 2009 to Kabayeva, a former rhythmic gymnastics gold medalist who is said to be his mistress. It is the establishment of the Putin dynasty.
On the other hand, many people are not amused by President Putin’s dictatorship and invasion of Ukraine. Right now, there is a tremendous power struggle going on behind the scenes in Moscow. The Russian Orthodox Church, one of the largest organizations in the country, is probably trying to calmly determine who the future winners will be,” Nakamura said.
The top leaders of the Russian Orthodox Church have been talking about a bloody game of power struggles. A major move will likely be made in June, the month of the anniversary.