Patriarch Alexy II and His Legacy


The head of the Russian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Alexy II, died at 79 on December 5, 2008 at his residence at the fashionable Moscow suburb of Peredelkino from heart failure.

During his 18-year patriarchy, which coincided with the collapse of the USSR and difficulties of the post-communist transition, the Russian Orthodox church was transformed from the persecuted and tightly controlled "legal counterrevolutionary force," as defined by Soviet authorities, to a symbol of Russia and an integral and important part of its ruling elite.

His controversial legacy reflects the tragic history of Russian people and their church, and his official image as defender of faith and savior of the Russian soul is tarnished by allegations of his being a KGB agent and the Soviet government’s assistant in the destruction of the church.

Alexy was born Alexei Ridiger February 23, 1929, in then-independent Estonia, where his religious parents took refuge from the murderous Bolshevik regime established in neighboring Petrograd in 1917. His grandfather, a colonel of the Tsar’s army, was shot by Bolsheviks in 1918.

To be religious in Soviet Russia often meant a death sentence. Missionaries of the Marxist utopia, Bolsheviks could not tolerate any competition for the minds of their captives. Their goal was to establish the absolute monopoly of the State over the thought process by their secular religion of communism.

The Soviet Union was the first state to have as an ideological and practical objective the elimination of religion or, in other words, physical extermination of religious people.

Not for a single year would Soviet authorities give them a break from repressions:

With Lenin’s decree of the separation of church and State on January 20, 1918, nationalization (i.e. daylight robbery) of the church’s property began: cathedrals and churches, church grounds, all buildings owned by churches were looted and valuables (gold, silver, platinum, paintings, icons, historical artifacts) were either stolen by Communist atheists or sold to the West via their Western sympathizers, agents, or fellow travelers like Armand Hammer, who first visited the Soviet Union and met Lenin in 1921. Hammer claimed that he went to Russia to collect some $150,000 in debts for drugs his company shipped there, but ended bartering wheat to Bolsheviks in exchange of gold and other valuables.

The time of his visit coincided with the first wave of church persecutions: 11,000 priests, monks, and nuns were arrested, and 9,000 executed. Almost all arrests on religious grounds would end with executions.

In the beginning of 1922, Lenin sent confidential instructions to Trotsky, ordering him to exterminate religion (i.e., clerics and other religious people). In the same year, the Bolsheviks organized show trials of the Russian Orthodox Patriarch Tikhon and Metropolitan Benjamin; 2,000 church hierarchs including Benjamin were shot as a result. Tikhon’s life was officially spared, but he died shortly of "natural causes."

During 1922–25 strange bedfellows – leading Bolsheviks and church leaders – formed an alliance with the goal of the former’s aspiration to break the Church from within and the latter’s hope to save what could be saved. They established the Renovated Church presenting Jesus as a militant proletarian resentful of capitalist exploitation.

There is no consensus about the true scale of communist crimes against people of faith. According to some [1], the number of Orthodox Churches in Russia fell from 29,584 to less than 500 between 1927 and 1940. Between 1917 and 1935, 130,000 Orthodox priests were arrested. Of these, 95,000 were put to death.

According to Russian sources [2] the number of victims of communist atheism is close to one million.

By the beginning of the Second World War almost all clergy, and millions of believers of all religions and denominations, were shot or sent to labor camps. Theological schools were closed, and religious publications prohibited.

In this "cultural" environment Alexy, ordained as a priest in 1950, rose in the Orthodox hierarchy, becoming Bishop of his native Tallinn in 1961 and Metropolitan of Novgorod and Leningrad in 1986. The sad truth is that in 1957 Alexy was recruited by the KGB. The church itself became a department of the Soviet secret police and could not choose anyone for any leadership position without KGB approval. It is a paradox that many faithful men and women were serving the Devil to see their church preserved. Felix Corley, a British scholar on eastern European religious affairs, insists that there is evidence that Alexy saved some churches during the Khrushchev’s onslaught on religious buildings in the early 1960s, including Tallinn’s Alexander Nevsky Cathedral [3]. Mr. Corley’s opinion is widely shared in the West.

God bless Alexy. I would not.

The Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia, the Right Honorable Alexy II, was KGB agent "Ouzel," who was a wholesale trader of his friends and associates to the godless communist devil.

Biographies of many church hierarchs in all socialist countries under communism are so freakish, that they dwarf the wildest Orwellian imagination.

Alexi’s breath-taking career was engineered by the KGB. Just three years after his "conversion" to the devil as a village priest, he was made the Bishop of Tallinn (he was 32, and married – both very unusual for the Orthodox Church’s hopefuls), in the next three years he was made an Archbishop, and then – Metropolitan. In seven years under the militantly atheistic Khrushchev regime, he became the de facto head of the whole church, with unlimited foreign travel privileges. For an ordinary priest, westbound travel was much less likely than space odysseys.

Sure enough "Ouzel" was praised by another KGB operative, Vladimir Putin, who called Alexy’s death a great tragedy: "He was a luminous man. His death is a great loss." Russia’s chief rabbi, Berel Lazar, said that Alexy was "a man of moral principles who never made compromises on key issues of faith." Mr. Putin’s spokesman, Russian president Dmitry Medvedev, who was on an official visit to India when the news broke, called Alexy a "great citizen" who "suffered all the critical tests the country experienced during the 20th century." [4] He definitely did and failed all of them.

Alexy was a vocal supporter of Chechen wars and Russian state television showed priests blessing tanks and other heavy weaponry of mass murder almost every day.

In an outrageous act of blasphemy, Alexy opened and blessed Moscow’s Church of God’s Wisdom, as the official church of the KGB a.k.a. as the Federal Security Service.

Alexy’s Western liberal friends and sympathizers, especially in the Episcopal Church, which praised Alexy on numerous occasions, should be aware that he was not one of them. In October 2007 he told the Council of Europe’s Parliamentary Assembly that homosexuality "is an illness, a distortion of a human being." He compared it with kleptomania which is the condition of not being able to resist the urge to steal things.

Alexy demanded that Moscow’s mayor Luzhkov should prohibit gay parades in the capital and arrest their participants. Mr. Luzhkov complied with great pleasure. His police went further and had beaten up many of these local and foreign participants almost to death (including some visiting members of the European Parliament) what caused first serious negative reaction of the European Union towards the Putin regime.

Alexy had a full life, and outlived many of his flock. No surprise! He devoted his life to keep his sheep sheep, and succeeded. R.I.P.!


[1] Russian Orthodox Church, Wikipedia

[2] Новая Газета, 13.10.1998

[3] The Moscow Times, Sunday, December 07, 2008.

[4] The Moscow Times, Sunday, December 07, 2008.

December 8, 2008

Yuri N. Maltsev [send him mail] is Professor of Economics at Carthage College in Wisconsin. Before coming to the U.S. in 1989, he was a member of a senior team of Soviet economists that worked on President Gorbachev’s reforms package of perestroika. He is the author of Requiem for Marx.