Two Swiss newspapers claim to have confirmed that the Orthodox Patriarch of Moscow and all Russia, Kirill, did indeed work for the KGB, substantiating the rumours about one of Putin’s most staunch supporters.
Sonntagszeitung and Le Matin Dimanche combed through declassified files in the Swiss federal archives and found a file on Vladimir Gundyaev, now the Russian patriarch. The file, the two newspapers say, confirms that, as a young priest in Geneva, the patriarch collaborated with Russia’s infamous intelligence agency, the KGB, for which Putin was also a career agent.
In the 1970s, Patriarch Kirill, still a young priest, lived in Geneva as the official representative of the Moscow patriarchate at the World Council of Churches (WCC). At the same time, his objective—given to him under the pseudonym ’Mikhaylov’ by the KGB—was to influence the council, which had been infiltrated by the KGB in the 1970s and 1980s.
The Soviets hoped to get the Genevan institution to denounce the United States and its allies and moderate their criticism of the lack of religious freedom in the USSR, the Swiss media outlets report.
Le Matin Dimanche also interviewed the patriarch’s nephew, Mikhail Gundyaev, who succeeded him as representative of the Moscow Patriarchate in Geneva. He told the news outlet that his uncle “was not an agent, although he was under ‘strict control’ of the KGB.”
This, Gundyaev adds, “did not tarnish the sincerity of his commitment to ecumenical work with other churches.”
Patriarch Kirill and the Russian Orthodox Church declined to comment on this investigation. The World Council of Churches told the Sonntagszeitung that it had no information on the matter.
Patriarch Kirill is currently under sanctions from the EU for his positions in support of the war in Ukraine.