Πέμπτη, 23 Μαΐου, 2024
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    Patriarch of Jerusalem prays alongside Archimandrite deported from North Macedonia for his FSB ties

    On April 7, on the feast of the Annunciation of the Most Holy Theotokos, the Patriarch Theophilus III of the Holy City of Jerusalem and All Palestine led the divine service in the Basilica of the Annunciation in the city of Nazareth in the co-service of a cleric from the Russian Orthodox Church, deported from North Macedonia over his ties with the Russian intelligence agency.

    In particular, the Patriarch was co-served by the hierarchs of the Church of Jerusalem, the head of the Russian spiritual mission in Jerusalem, Archimandrite Vassian (Zmeev), deported from Macedonia, and the cleric of the Mission, Deacon Makariy Petukhov, reports the press service of the Russian Orthodox Church.

    At the end of the Divine Liturgy, an official reception took place. In a greeting, the ambassador of the Russian Federation to Israel, A.D. Viktorov, said: “Russia resolutely supports the efforts of His Beatitude Patriarch Theophilus III of Jerusalem and All Palestine, aimed at preserving the Orthodox Christian presence and true spiritual heritage in the Holy Land.”

    FSB agent Vassian (Zmeev)

    Archimandrite Vassian (Zmeev) was expelled from North Macedonia and Bulgaria in the fall of 2023 due to suspicions of promoting Russian geopolitical interests and opposing the national security of these countries. This calls into question his suitability for church service, but sheds light on his agent work for the benefit of the Russian Federation.

    The co-service of Archimandrite Vassian, deported from Bulgaria, to Patriarch Theophilos should be understood as a continuation of the politicized intervention of the Russian Orthodox Church in the affairs of the Jerusalem Patriarchate and other Orthodox churches. The Russian Orthodox Church is trying to expand its influence and control with the help of “spiritual missions” and to extract from Theophilus messages beneficial for the Kremlin, which will be broadcast to world Orthodoxy and beyond.

    That is, Russia continues to exploit religious ties to strengthen its own geopolitical positions, especially in the context of the conflict around Ukraine. The Russian Federation seeks to attract the Jerusalem Patriarchate to its side in this conflict. That is why Patriarch Theophilus hypocritically thanked the Russian Orthodox Church and spoke of warm relations with the Moscow Patriarchate, ignoring the atrocities and crimes of the Russian invaders, who have been killing thousands of Ukrainians with the “blessing” from Kirill.

    It is important to emphasize that the meeting took place against the background of the ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine, so it should be seen as an attempt by the Russian Orthodox Church to gain international support for its position on Ukraine. Patriarch Theophilus, instead of condemning Russia’s aggression, once again supported the ROC and thus Russia, too.

    The Jerusalem Patriarchate once again demonstrated its patronage of evil and its dependence on the Kremlin, because it was not ashamed to accept an outright FSB agent wearing a cassock. The Russian Orthodox Church will try to promote not only religious, but also geopolitical interests of Russia in the Holy Land through such compromised persons.

    It should be recalled that on November 20, the head of the Russian spiritual mission in Jerusalem, Archimandrite Vassian (Zmeev), visited the Jerusalem Patriarchate, where he was received by Theophilus III, Patriarch of the Holy City of Jerusalem and All Palestine. The latter expressed regret over the UOC (MP) issue.

    What preceded this?

    It should be recalled that on September 12, 2023, the ambassador of the Russian Federation in North Macedonia was summoned to the local Ministry of Foreign Affairs and handed a diplomatic note declaring three diplomats of the Russian Federation Embassy in Skopje personae non grata. In addition, ROC Archimandrite Vassian (Zmeev) was banned from entering the country.

    On September 21, the State National Security Agency of Bulgaria decided to expel from the country three representatives of the Russian Orthodox Church, led by the abbot of the monastery in Sofia, Archimandrite Vassian (Zmeev). The agency introduced administrative restrictive measures against them, motivating it by “the hybrid strategy of the Russian Federation regarding targeted influence on socio-political processes in Bulgaria in favor of Russian geopolitical interests.”

    It was claimed that the activities of these representatives of the Russian Orthodox Church were directed against the national security and interests of the Republic of Bulgaria. After the unexpected expulsion of representatives of the Russian Orthodox Church, the physical possibility of religious services and other work disappeared, and the temple itself was temporarily closed. The Russian Foreign Ministry defined what was happening as an “anti-Russian” provocation by the Bulgarian authorities. The Patriarch of Moscow expressed regret over the move.

    According to unconfirmed media reports, Archimandrite Vasian’s “merit” was the stagnation in relations with the Ecumenical Patriarchate regarding the full recognition of the autocephaly of the Ohrid Archdiocese.

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