By Chris King • 07 February 2023 • 0:19
Two news outlets in Switzerland claimed this Monday, February 6, to have uncovered proof that Patriarch Kirill, the current head of the Russian Orthodox Church, was previously a member of the KGB. Kirill is a fervent supporter of Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.
Le Matin Dimanche and Sonntagszeitung revealed that they had discovered this fact after consulting files within the Swiss federal archives and it had been verified by the Swiss police. They revealed that Kirill lived in Geneva in the early 1970s. At this time, he officially represented Moscow at the World Council of Churches (WCC).
It is known that the KGB infiltrated the WCC during the 1970s and 80s, and the two publications noted that Kirill was tasked by the Soviet intelligence agency to influence the Council. They aimed to encourage the institution to denounce the United States and its allies. As a result, they hoped that the WCC would moderate its criticisms of the lack of religious freedom in the USSR.
When approached for comment by the two papers, the Russian Church “refused to comment on Kirill’s espionage activities in Geneva”, they pointed out. In turn, a spokesperson for the WCC said it had ‘no information’ on the subject.
Mikhail Goundiaev, the patriarch’s nephew who succeeded Kirill in Geneva reportedly told Le Matin Dimanche that his uncle “was not an agent, even if he was subject to the KGB’s ‘strict control'”. This “did not affect the sincerity of his commitment to ecumenical work with other churches”, Goundiaev emphasised to the outlet.
Patriarch Kirill is a big fan of Switzerland noted Le Matin Dimanche. “He has visited Switzerland at least 43 times”, they detailed.
The news outlet added that: “in addition to his passion for skiing – in 2007 he broke his leg on a Swiss slope – religious diplomacy, espionage and financial matters have constantly brought Kirill back to the Alps or to the shores of Lake Geneva”.
After receiving Jean-Rene Fournier the President of the Swiss Council of States in Moscow in 2019, the patriarch told him: “I have special feelings towards your country. Of all the countries in the world, it is perhaps the one I have visited most often”.
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Originally from Wales, Chris spent years on the Costa del Sol before moving to the Algarve where he is a web reporter for The Euro Weekly News covering international and Spanish national news.
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