ISSN 2330-717X

Patriarch Kirill Gives Religious Content To Putin’s Centralist Power Vertical – OpEd


Russians have traditionally considered Kyiv the first center of Russian Orthodox civilization, but Patriarch Kirill says they must focus first and foremost on Moscow rather than on any other center of power in order to ensure the unity of the country at a time of trial.


“Today,” the head of the ROC MP says, “our people especially need internal unity … and therefore our people today should especially rally about the city of Moscow, this historical center of all Russia, out of a recognition that our strength is only in unity” and that as long as we are united, we will be strong (

All too many people, the Russian churchman says, now “want to sow confusion in Russia and instill their ‘pseudo-values,’’ by shifting a person’s consciousness from the vertical dimension of life which connects a person with God to the horizontal on which all the needs of the body are based.”

Kirill chose to make this declaration as he noted in the Kremlin’s Uspensky Cathedral which was built in the 15th century as a sign of the unification of Russian lands, a development that was underscored by the shift in church life first from Kyiv to Vladimir and then from Vladimir to Moscow.

 The cathedral was built by Metropolitan Petr, who began life in Volhynia, which is now part of Western Ukraine, but then moved to Vladimir and finally to Moscow. Kirill noted that Petr’s peregrinations were opposed by the patriarch of Constantinople but made possible when the ruler of Moscow received recognition from the Golden Horde which had become Muslim.

In reporting this, Andrey Melnikov, the editor of NG-Religii, observes that “since in modern Russian politics, historical concepts often assume the character of manifestos or even guides for action, Kirill’s sermon should be read in the context of Moscow’s current conflict with the West and its existential turn to the East.”


The patriarch’s words thus provide religious support for Putin’s foreign and domestic policies, his efforts to create a power vertical at home and to destroy Ukraine and ties to the West in favor of ties to the East abroad.

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] .

2 thoughts on “Patriarch Kirill Gives Religious Content To Putin’s Centralist Power Vertical – OpEd

  • May 6, 2022 at 1:06 pm

    Russians & Ukrainians look upon Orthodox religion as their TREASURE. Here in America we have 4 dozen varieties of Christianity . Morality is in sharp decline, 50% divorce rate (marriage) should be considered a sacrament. Broken/disrupted family life is bad for children. Drug use is rampant. Crime rates have increased ,etc. ONE solid religion like Orthodoxy is much better then the 4 dozen varieties we have in America.

  • May 8, 2022 at 11:54 am

    Good old Kirill, doing his best just like his predecessors and like during his KGB days: sidle up to the worldly power of the day and offer a fig leaf to hide the naughty bits.


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