Council of Europe says Russian Church is complicit in war crimes, Church rep says the Council is divorced from reality

Strasbourg, April 19, 2024

Photo: Photo:     

The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe has adopted a resolution characterizing the Russian Orthodox Church as complicit in war crimes and calling on all member states to recognize it as such.

But the Parliamentary Assembly has long been divorced from reality, says Vladimir Legoida, a top Russian Church representative.

The Parliamentary Assembly (PACE) is one of two bodies representing the Council of Europe. It is made up of 324 parliamentarians from the Council’s 46 member states. On Wednesday, April 17, PACE unanimously adopted a resolution about the death of Alexei Navalny and the presidency of Vladimir Putin.

The resolution boldly declares that Navalny was a “political prisoner persecuted, and ultimately killed, by the Russian State for his opposition to Vladimir Putin’s regime,” and that the presidency of Vladimir Putin is illegitimate because there were no viable opponents in the recent presidential elections.

The document also speaks of the Russian Orthodox Church under His Holiness Patriarch Kirill, accusing it of distorting Orthodox tradition in service of the Kremlin:

Vladimir Putin’s regime has committed to the neo-imperialistic ideology of Russkiy Mir (the “Russian world”), which the Kremlin has turned into a tool for promoting war. This ideology is being used to destroy the remnants of democracy, to militarise Russian society and to justify external aggression to expand the Russian Federation’s borders to include all territories once under Russian domination, including Ukraine. The hierarchy of the Moscow Patriarchate of the Russian Orthodox Church, including Patriarch Kirill, has been championing the Russkiy Mir ideology, declaring the war against Ukraine and the “satanic” West as a “holy war of all Russians”, urging Orthodox believers to sacrifice themselves for their country. The Assembly is appalled by such an abuse of religion and the distortion of the Christian Orthodox tradition by Vladimir Putin's regime and its proxies in the Moscow Patriarchate hierarchy. The Assembly condemns such rhetoric and emphasises that incitement to commit the crime of aggression, genocide and war crimes is a crime in itself.

And therefore:

The Assembly calls on all States to treat Patriarch Kirill and the Russian Orthodox hierarchy as an ideological extension of Vladimir Putin’s regime complicit in war crimes and crimes against humanity conducted in the name of the Russian Federation and the Russkiy Mir ideology.

Further on, the Assembly

encourages the Council of Europe member and observer States and the European Union to recognise that the Russian Orthodox Church is in fact being used as an instrument of Russian influence and propaganda by the Kremlin regime and has nothing to do with the freedom of religion and the freedom of expression guaranteed by Article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

Following the news of the PACE resolution, Vladimir Legoida, chairman of the Moscow Patriarchate’s Synodal Department for Relations with Society and the Media, responded, saying the Assembly is divorced from reality and its members seem to be lacking in basic education:

The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe has existed for some time in a special political reality, which is not too strongly connected with current international law, and sometimes with common sense.

But the latest resolution amazes with undisguised hatred compounded by legal incompetence…

It would be worth reminding the authors of this opus, who most likely did not receive any fundamental education, that no organization can deprive millions of believers, who profess their faith and are united by belonging to the same Church, of religious freedom, even if their position is alien to some group of people united in a quasi-religious sect of haters of Russian Orthodoxy, which calls itself an Assembly.

But even if they decided to do so, they have no right to refer to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, a universal human rights document belonging to the UN system, not a regional one like the Council of Europe itself (from which Russia has exited, by the way). And in the UN, as is well known, there are still few states that believe they have the right to deprive millions of believers of religious freedom with a stroke of the pen.

PACE’s resolution is similar to the call of Estonian Minister of the Interior Lauri Läänemets to recognize the Moscow Patriarchate as a terrorist organization, although he has softened his language after his initial statement.

Follow OrthoChristian on Twitter, Vkontakte, Telegram, WhatsApp, MeWe, and Gab!


to our mailing list

* indicates required