More Fallout From Ukrainian Autocephaly: Russians Learn Orthodox Hierarchs Were KGB Officers – OpEd


Specialists on religion in the Soviet Union have known for decades that many of the most senior hierarchs of the Russian Orthodox Church were KGB officers, but few Russians know much about this because the Kremlin hasn’t wanted to draw attention to it given that many of these KGB officers are still in their senior church positions.

Now, however, as a result of the increasingly angry public discussion in Russia about the grant of autocephaly to the Ukrainian Orthodox, some Russian commentators are making reference to this history, most prominently film director Nikita Mikhalkov on Russia 24 two days ago (

In an effort to discredit Patriarch Filaret of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Kyiv Patriarchate who is odds on favorite to become the head of a single autocephalous Ukrainian Orthodox church, the Russian film director said that Filaret in Soviet times was an agent of the KGB with the code name “Antonov.”

That affiliation became known, Mikhalkov continued, in 1991 when a parliamentary commission which included Father Gleb Yakunin uncovered data in the KGB archives about the agents the KGB had among the hierarchs of the Russian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate.

At that time, Filaret was the exarch of Ukraine and even the provisional head of the Moscow Patriarchate.

Among other KGB agents in the church were then-Patriarch Aleksii II (code name “Drozdov”), Kirill who is the patriarch now (code name “Mikhailov”), Metropolitan Yuvenaliy (code name “Adamant”), as well as many others. In 1992, the Moscow Patriarchate crated a commission to look into these cases, but not surprisingly, the commission never began work.

Paul Goble

Paul Goble is a longtime specialist on ethnic and religious questions in Eurasia. Most recently, he was director of research and publications at the Azerbaijan Diplomatic Academy. Earlier, he served as vice dean for the social sciences and humanities at Audentes University in Tallinn and a senior research associate at the EuroCollege of the University of Tartu in Estonia. He has served in various capacities in the U.S. State Department, the Central Intelligence Agency and the International Broadcasting Bureau as well as at the Voice of America and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Mr. Goble maintains the Window on Eurasia blog and can be contacted directly at [email protected] .

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