The Head of the Russian Orthodox Church has been removed from a list of EU sanctions against Russia after an intervention by Hungary.
At a meeting of EU ambassadors in Brussels this week the Hungarian government refused to accept an approved package of sanctions on Kremlin-associates unless Patriarch Kirill's name was removed.
Patriarch Kirill, who's 75, has been widely criticised for his support of President Putin during Russia's invasion of Ukraine.
In a statement, Hungary's secretary for international communications, Zoltán Kovács said it was inappropriate to include the Patriarch as he is a religious leader :
"Patriarch Kirill is a religious leader. Respecting fundamental principles of religious freedom, the government of Hungary considers it inappropriate for the EU to include his name among those who would be specifically sanctioned. Hungary’s position on the possible EU sanctions against Russian Patriarch Kirill has long been well known, and no one at the EU summit spoke out against Hungary’s position.”
The EU sanctions against Russia include a partial embargo on Russian oil.