Russian Orthodox Church has functioned as Russian intelligence front for “decades” says retired SBU general

16 April, 05:08 PM
Believers of the UOC-MP on the territory of the Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra (Photo:REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach)

Believers of the UOC-MP on the territory of the Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra (Photo:REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach)

The Russian government has been using the Russian Orthodox Church for intelligence and subversive activities in other countries for decades, according to retired General Victor Yahun, a former officer of Ukraine’s SBU security service, in an interview with Radio NV on April 16.

“They began actively using it from the 50s-60s, when the Russian Orthodox Church entered international structures – economic ones, related to the struggle for peace, and global religious organizations,” said Yahun.

“The opportunity for religious delegations to travel to conferences and seminars was highly valued, because these delegations could include not only clergy but also undercover agents and spies.”

Video of day

He added that after the collapse of the Soviet Union, during the time of the Russian Federation, cooperation between the intelligence services and the church continued.

“Many young officers (...) found themselves without a job after being discharged from the army,” he explained.

“The church started to recruit them. They underwent special courses – six months or a year – and could be ordained as priests. This suited the church well because these people had military training, were used to following orders, and did not ask questions – they were ideologically well-versed.”

Yahun added that he knew of one such priest who worked in Kyiv, but in 2014 he left for Russia.

“It is not excluded that they have not forgotten their former connections, in particular with the KGB of the USSR, so some of them graduated from border guard schools that were then part of the KGB system,” said Yahun.

“This system worked quite actively. There was no need to think – you take a priest-officer immediately, you pick up his personal file and say, ‘You continue to serve, Father’.”

According to him, during the full-scale invasion, law enforcement agencies documented about 60 representatives of the Russian Orthodox Church engaging in activities on behalf of the Russian government.

We’re bringing the voice of Ukraine to the world. Support us with a one-time donation, or become a Patron!

Follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Google News

Ukraine Today
Fresh daily newsletter covering the top headlines and developments in Ukraine
Daily at 9am EST
Show more news