A top Russian priest, who is opposed to the Ukraine war, has been sacked as part of President Vladimir Putin’s latest purge on dissention.
Metropolitan Hilarion, seen as the deputy head of the Russian orthodox church, has been sent to Budapest, “an outlying diocese”, where he will be “relieved of his duties”, according to the Russian synod.
The priest, born Grigory Alfeyev, is not only a noted theologian, but a composer of classical music, and is often described as the foreign minister of the Russian Orthodox Church, according to Elizabeth Braw, of the Center for European Policy Analysis.
While Hilarion’s recent anti-war actions such as signing a declaration condemning the war, had until now been tolerated, that is no longer the case.
The 55-year-old cleric led a delegation to a meeting of global orthodox churches in Cyprus in May, where he took his stand. Until then he had been relatively circumspect in his views.
Hilarion’s actions stand in stark contrast to Patriarch Kirill, who heads up the Russian state church and is perceived to be close to President Putin.
Premier news reported in June how Patriarch Kirill had been sanctioned by the UK government “for his prominent support of Russian military aggression in Ukraine.”
A prominent Russian media supporter of Putin then threatened that the Foreign Secretary Liz Truss would go to hell for her actions.
Hilarion was not the only outspoken Russian to feel the ire of the President in recent weeks. Dmitry Kolker, head of the Novosibirsk State University’s quantum optical technologies laboratory was arrested and taken from a hospital where he was receiving cancer treatment. He died a few days later.
Missile scientist Col Andrey Grudzinsky, who works at the academy of missile and artillery sciences, has also been arrested and charged with fraud.