Kirill slams ‘myth’ of Russian state-church collusion
Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill said Sunday that the collusion of state and church decried by anti-Kremlin punk group Pussy Riot was nothing but a "myth" elaborated to damage the church.
“It’s a myth. A myth created intentionally” to show that “through this collusion the Church tries to control your conscience, your will,” Kirill said in an interview with state news channel Rossiya.
“Why must the fact that the president or prime minister prays with the Patriarch once or twice a year lead to the conclusion that there is collusion?” the 65-year-old head of Russia’s powerful Orthodox Church added.
“And why should we deprive those who are believers the right to pray, including with their patriarch?”
The comments came after three Pussy Riot members were sentenced to two years in a corrective labour colony last month for hooliganism motivated by religious hatred after they belted out a song criticising President Vladimir Putin in Moscow’s main cathedral.
The women had called on the Virgin Mary to “drive out Putin” just weeks ahead of his election in March to a third presidential term in a song that included scathing lyrics saying the Patriarch “believes in Putin.”
The women’s prosecution drew a storm of international criticism and Kirill was slammed for his inflexibility on their account.
A self-professed Putin ally, Kirill flourished under Soviet rule and became plagued by controversy on becoming patriarch in 2009, with scandals linked to his ownership of luxury goods and property as well as the use of angry rhetoric to denounce anti-Putin protests.