TALLINN - Head of the Russian Orthodox Church in Estonia Metropolitan Eugene told the Estonian Ministry of the Interior on Wednesday that he does not support the views of Patriarch of Moscow and all Rus, Kirill, regarding the war in Ukraine, Postimees reports.
The ministry had requested that Eugene express his views on the matter by Wednesday at the latest, otherwise, law enforcement authorities would have launched proceedings to have the metropolitan's residence permit revoked as he is a citizen of Russia.
Deputy secretary general of the Estonian Ministry of the Interior Raivo Kuut requested in a letter sent on Oct. 7 that the Estonian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate take a clear position with regard to a statement from Sept. 25 by Patriarch Kirill of Moscow justifying the Russian Federation's war in Ukraine.
Eugene took a position on Wednesday, confirming that he does not share the views of Patriarch Kirill of Moscow according to which the Russian soldiers who have died in Ukraine will be absolved of their sins. Eugene said that he joined the March 19 statement by the Estonian Council of Churches condemning the war and calling for an end to the hostilities.
"My position has remained unchanged since," the metropolitan said.
Eugene noted that already at the start of the war he called on members of his church to refrain from getting involved in political debates and to concentrate instead on helping refugees.
"The 10,000 euros raised in our congregations has been transferred to the account of the Estonian Refugee Council. Members of the congregations of our church have worked at refugee reception centers, took part in the collection of food and essentials and provided accommodation if possible," Eugene said.
Estonian Minister of the Interior Lauri Laanemets said after receiving Eugene's letter on Wednesday that this is exactly what the ministry sought to learn from the metropolitan and, thus, the issue of revoking Eugene's residence permit is off the agenda. The minister recalled that after the patriarch's Sept. 25 speech, religious leaders in Estonia's neighboring countries condemned the statement and Estonia had been expecting the same from Eugene. The minister said that the state had wanted certainty that the Russian Orthodox Church in Estonia does not support the war in Ukraine and that it has indeed received this certainty from the metropolitan's letter.