A religious leader who lived in Geneva in the 1970s spied for the Soviet Union under the code name “Mikhailov”.
Russian the leader of the Orthodox Church, Patriarch Kirill of Moscow has, in his own words, “special feelings” for Switzerland. He has also visited the country more than 40 times.
Now previously secret documents reveal that Kirill worked in the Alpine country in the 1970s when he was living as an agent of the Soviet state security police, the KGB. Swiss newspapers reported on the matter Die SonntagsZeitung and Le Matin Dimanche.
Kirill, who became Patriarch of Moscow in 2009, is now known as the President Vladimir Putin and as a supporter of the Russian war of aggression, who blesses Russian soldiers going to Ukraine. In 1971, 24-year-old Kirill moved to Geneva, Switzerland to represent the Russian Orthodox Church in the World Council of Churches (WCC).
According to Swiss Federal Police documents, “Monsignor Kirill” was working for the KGB at the time, Swiss newspapers say. In the World Council of Churches, his task was to gather information about other members and influence their attitude towards the Soviet Union.
Soviet Union according to the documents, historians and Russian journalists concluded that Kirill was operating in Geneva under the code name “Mikhailov”, reports Die SonntagsZeitung. Between 1969 and 1989, the Swiss police registered Kirill as having entered the country 37 times.
According to the newspaper, Kirill himself has also stated that he has visited Switzerland perhaps more often than any other country in the world.
In general, the entries have only been about visa applications and arrivals. Twice, however, Kirill has been included in the list of Soviet authorities against whom measures have been initiated, says Die SonntagsZeitung. It has not been clarified what kind of measures are involved in practice.
An anonymous source who knew Kirill in Geneva told Die SonntagsZeitung that Kirill always asked a lot of questions and seemed to be looking for information in conversations. He also said that they had been warned about Soviet priests.
“We were told: beware of these priests because they are KGB agents,” he stated.
Its neither Kirill nor the Russian Orthodox Church have wanted to comment on the espionage accusations to Swiss newspapers. The World Council of Churches has responded that it has no information on the matter.
Kirill still has friends and family in Switzerland. His nephew is currently the representative of the Russian Orthodox Church at the World Council of Churches in Geneva.
He claimed that his uncle was unlikely to have been an agent, but indeed “under the strict supervision of the KGB”. The nephew denies that this has in any way weakened Kirill’s sincere commitment to ecumenical work with other churches.
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