Ukraine’s Security Service serves notice of suspicion on Russian Orthodox Church Patriarch, whereas Putin awards him

Ukraine’s Security Service serves notice of suspicion on Russian Orthodox Church Patriarch, whereas Putin awards him
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Patriarch Vladimir Gundyaev (Kirill). Photo: AFP via Getty Images

The Security Service of Ukraine (SSU) and the Ukrainian Prosecutor General’s Office (PGO) have collected evidence against Patriarch Vladimir Gundyaev (Kirill) of the Russian Orthodox Church (ROC), who facilitates Russia’s armed aggression and denies Russian war crimes.

Source: SSU; Kremlin-aligned news agency RIA Novosti

Details: Based on the evidence collected, Gundyaev was served with a notice of suspicion under the following articles of the Criminal Code of Ukraine:

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  • Art. 110.3 (encroachment on the territorial integrity and inviolability of Ukraine);
  • Art. 436-2.3 (justification, recognition as lawful, denial of the armed aggression of the Russian Federation against Ukraine, glorification of its participants);
  • Art. 27.5 and Art. 437.2 (planning, preparation, outbreak and conduct of an aggressive war).

The investigation found that the Moscow Patriarch is a member of the inner circle of Russia’s top military and political leadership and was one of the first to publicly support the full-scale war against Ukraine.

Gundyaev extensively employs the religious communities of the Russian Orthodox Church in Russia, as well as representatives of the Kremlin-aligned Ukrainian Orthodox Church-Moscow Patriarchate (UOC-MP) in Ukraine, to spread propaganda. Moreover, Gundyaev regularly disseminates the Kremlin’s narratives via online sermons or his own video comments.

It was specifically documented that the ROC website posted an “article” about the liturgy in March 2022, in which a cleric blessed Russian National Guard Commander Viktor Zolotov for the war against Ukraine. In addition, a video featuring Gundyaev justifying the Russian occupation of the east of Ukraine emerged on the ROC’s official YouTube channel at the end of February 2023. Moreover, the patriarch repeatedly gave comments to propagandists from Russia’s central TV channels, endorsing the Kremlin’s aggressive policy and urging believers to unite in the war against Ukraine.

The SSU-initiated examination confirmed the cases of criminal activity by the Patriarch of the ROC.

“Comprehensive measures are underway to bring the suspect to justice for crimes against our state,” the SSU said.

The SSU has initiated 70 criminal proceedings against representatives of the UOC-MP, including 16 metropolitans, since the beginning of Russia’s full-scale aggression.

Meanwhile, Russian President Vladimir Putin awarded Patriarch Kirill the 2023 Russian Presidential Prize “for his contribution to strengthening the unity of the Russian nation” on Saturday, 4 November, Kremlin-aligned news agency RIA Novosti reported.

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