Putin's Espionage Church
Konstantin Preobrazhensky, a former
Lt. Colonel in the KGB who defected to the United States in 1993, is
an intelligence expert and specialist on Japan, about which he has
written six books. This is a chapter of Konstantin Preobrazhensky’s
forthcoming book, “Russian Americans: A New KGB Asset”.
1. Russian Victory Over America
On May 17, 2007, Russia has gained a
historical victory over America. It has opened its province here, which
is called the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Of Russia (ROCOR). On this
day it has recognized Moscow’s superiority over itself by signing an Act
of Canonical Community with the Moscow Patriarchate (MP). But in Russia
the Church and state separated only on paper. In fact, the Moscow
Patriarchate (MP) is controlled by the Russian neo-KGB state and has
always been the pawn of the Russian intelligence.
Though a part of the Russian Orthodox
Church Outside Of Russia (ROCOR) has refused to come under Moscow’s rule
and retained independence, many thousands of Russian Americans and their
children are now nourished in the spirit of loyalty to authoritarian
Russia, which is becoming hostile to America day-by-day. KGB-backed
priests with Russian passports are replacing local clergy. Their
churches have become insidious fronts for Russian state interests no
matter how our relations evolve in the future.
Initially, ROCOR has been the Church of
Imperial Russia, brought to the West by Russian émigrés after the
Communist revolution of 1917. While the Moscow Patriarchate (MP) was
founded by Stalin in 1943 for political purpose: enhancing patriotism in
Russia and spying on the ill-hated West. In preparation of the seizure
of ROCOR, the KGB has been infiltrated it for over 70 years! From 2000,
President Putin has personally guided this mammoth KGB operation.
2. Confessions of Aleksey II
It is interesting, why do the Moscow
Patriarchate (MP) hierarchs so persistently resist repenting their
cooperation with the KGB? Metropolitan Chrysostom, after all,
acknowledged his collaboration, and nothing happened to him. No one
fired him. Why are others silent?
I used to think that they
were silent because of their fear of new exposures. For instance, if
you admit having collaborated with the KGB, that could lead to the
exposure of also your membership in the CPSU (Communist Party of the
Soviet Union). How would ROCOR react to that?
Yes, the leadership of the MP all were
members of the Communist Party, which has been skillfully concealed.
They say that the first Communist within the church was Patriarch Pimen.
He was a Senior officer of the Red Army, and joined the Communist Party
at the front.
There could not have been
any officers who believed in God, nor officers who were not Communist
Party members. More than that, they were all forced to fight religion.
That means that the future patriarch of the MP renounced his
High-ranking workers of the Central
Committee of the Communist Party, had let me in on this secret when I
was an officer of Intelligence. They used to practice a sort of crude
joke on the MP hierarchs. Seeing a person in episcopal clothing at a
Kremlin party or at a conference for peace fighters, they would clap him
on the shoulder and inquire loudly: “Tell us, Father, which pocket of
your cassock holds your party membership ID card?” The bishop would
smile a bit sheepishly, but he never objected, since everyone at that
gathering was of the same background.
But they keep quiet for another
reason. A well-known former general of the KGB, Oleg Kalugin, recently
told me this. In 1990 he became the deputy of the Supreme Soviet of the
USSR and he was the first person to begin exposing KGB agents in
The MP became greatly disturbed. They
were not afraid of individual exposes, but they were petrified that
their main secret – that the MP had intentionally been created by
Stalin to be a liaison with the KGB, just as other Soviet organizations
of the State, would be revealed. No one would ever dream of bringing
to light the fact that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has KGB agents
working in it. That’s understood. But if you were to admit that the
same thing is in the MP, then where is its sanctity?
Soon after my talk with him, General
Kalugin was invited to a private luncheon with the Patriarch. Patriarch
Alexey II told Kalugin the following: “Why are you exaggerating what
happened? Yes, we collaborated with the KGB, even I did. But it was a
struggle for peace, for disarmament! There’s nothing wrong with that!”
To say that a KGB informer is fighting
for peace, now that is truly unbelievable. No one has ever portrayed it
that way before. The KGB didn’t have any specialties in that vein – no
struggle for peace departments. These words are propaganda nonsense!
On the contrary, we fought for war! Results of our activity were
military conflicts one after the other – in Afghanistan, Ethiopia,
Mozambique, Angola. This led to a bloating of the military-industrial
complex, of which Intelligence was a part. The country was unable to
sustain the weight of it all, and the USSR collapsed.
Alexey II let me know in no uncertain
terms that he does not consider his collaboration with the KGB something
shameful, and has no intentions of repenting of it. On the contrary, he
is proud of it, just as Putin is proud of his work in the KGB during the
Soviet years. The complete absence of repentance lays down a bridge for
future cooperation of the MP and the KGB of today. Why would a
well-bred nobleman Ridiger (Alexey II family name is Ridiger) be so
dedicated to the Soviet authorities? What has bound them so tightly?
In the distant 1996, my journalistic
destiny brought me to a Communist meeting in Novocherkassk.
Presidential elections were underway in Russia, and the head of the
Communist Party of the Russian Federation, Zyuganov, appeared to be a
serious contender to Boris Yeltsin. He came for support to this Cossack
region, where his predecessors in the 1920s conducted mass executions.
Now the area is known for its pro-Communist sentiment.
An elderly priest, Father Vladimir,
from a local cathedral also spoke at this meeting. He, too, spoke out
in favor of Zyuganov, which brought about immense surprise on the part
of foreign journalists. But Father Vladimir firmly declared:
“In order for us to study in the
Seminary, we were recalled from the Front! To this day we arerateful to
the Communist Party for it. Therefore we accepted our studies in the
Seminary as one would accept an assignment at the Front. That’s how we
referred to ourselves our whole life – the non-party-ticketed
Which department had the authority to
recall people from the Front, especially during such critical years of
the war, when even the sick and feeble were dragged into the army? It
could only have been the NKVD (“People’s Commissariat of Internal
Affairs”, the precursor to the KGB). On whom would she have bestowed
this unheard of privilege, which could have saved the person’s life?
Only on those who had already been proven reliable and trustworthy, the
Stalin created the MP with the hands of
the KGB. This department became her mother. The genetic ties with the
KGB in the Moscow Patriarchate are just as strong as the ties between
ROCOR and the White anti-Communist Movement.
3. THE Lubyanka Consecration
Informing to the KGB within the Moscow
Patriarchate has been a serious obstacle against the unification with
the MP of the Church Abroad (ROCOR). What if it continues to this day,
the informing? Who can say that it no longer takes place?
Those who side with unification try to
minimize the collaboration and to make it look like just individual
cases, not a global phenomenon within the Church, that it truly was.
They say, for instance, that only some priests became KGB agents within
the overall independent life of the Church. Here in the West this bait
is swallowed easily.
The rector of the Saint John the
Baptist Cathedral in Washington, D.C., Archpriest Victor Potapov, states
the following in the August, 2004 issue of the magazine, “Prihodskaya
Zhizn” (“Parish Life”): “ Within the confines of the Russian Orthodox
Church Outside of Russia hot disputes are occurring regarding the
future path of the Church and regarding the reunion with the Moscow
Patriarchate. In reference with this, I find myself hearing sharp
attacks against individual bishops and certain church activists.
Objections sometimes are simplified to this – it is impossible to unite
with the church in Russia because some of the priests have been
corrupted and collaborated with the KGB and haven’t repented of their
collaboration. It cannot be possible that the sins of individual people
would throw a shadow on the sanctity of the Church.”
Dear Father Victor! It is not so at
all. It is not individuals. It is, in fact, some individuals who
escaped recruitment by the KGB! Absolutely all bishops and the
overwhelming majority of priests collaborated with the KGB. You have to
understand that the Church was considered a hostile environment, and it
needed, therefore, to be controlled via agents. Even the mechanism of
choosing a bishop, only pushed through its agents.
Bishops were part of the nomenclature
of the CK KPSS (Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet
Union), and therefore each individual had to be approved by the
Ideological Department. And which organization, do you think, would
send documentation to the Central Committee for important staff
appointments? That’s right, it was the KGB. The recommendation for the
future bishop would have been prepared by the Fifth Department, which
had general responsibility over the Church, and Intelligence, if he had
ever been overseas. Each of the recommendations ended with the phrase:
“Collaborates since such a year.”
It was this phrase that was most
important for the Central Committee. This phrase testified to the fact
that the future bishop was not only loyal to the Soviet authorities, but
that he also hangs on a hook: since each agent invariably has
compromising materials in his file! This means that this bishop can be
trusted not to play any dissident tricks. The astuteness of this
observation is evident even today – all the bishops sacredly keep their
vow of silence.
Ecclesiastical merits of a candidate
for bishop did not interest the Ideological Department. To the
contrary, they were hostile to them. The less merits, the better. After
this, the Central Committee sanctioned the consecration. Just one
thing, is it possible to consider it as such?
However, the consecration was only the
beginning. Afterward, it was necessary to be registered as a Bishop in
the Council on Religious Affairs. This was granted after a confidential
interview with its chairman, Vladimir Kuroyedov, a KGB Lieutenant
He used to like to come dine in the
General’s dining hall at Lubyanka. Entering, he would show everyone his
pass into the Kremlin dining hall and would say: “See, I could have
been dining with Brezhnev himself! But I prefer to eat with my guys!”
The Generals replied with a responsive
roar and each would move his chair back, inviting Kuroyedov to his
table. Not infrequently his table partner would wind up being my
father, the Deputy Chief of the KGB’s Border Troops. In the evenings he
would retell some amazing stories from church life, which at that time
was completely confidential. And all the bishops, blessed by Kuroyedov,
still hold their posts and are even attempting to attach the Church
Abroad to the MP.
To this day, they all remain, as
before, a part of the agency network. They would have been excluded
from the network for decoding, had they brought a public repentance.
But there was no such repentance. That means that their files still
remain active in the safes of Lubyanka. Not in its archives, but in its
The MP hierarchs not only informed
against each other in the KGB, but they were also engaged in espionage.
First of all, in Russian émigré communities. Even metropolitans had no
aversion to espionage. For instance, Irinei, the metropolitan of Vienna
and Austria, in 1969 recruited the American military intelligence
officer, George Trofimoff, who is now serving a life sentence in the
For approximately thirty years, the KGB
residence in Israel was located inside the Jerusalem Mission of the MP.
There were no other Soviet offices in that country after the break of
diplomatic relations in the mid -1960s. On the staff of the Mission,
Intelligence officers worked as priests and laity, whereas “real” clergy
were relegated to . . . . The Secretary of the Mission and KGB Major
Dubov fled to the West in the late 1980s, and the MP did everything it
could to avoid publicity.
4. The Church of Special Purpose
A priest in epaulets – isn’t such a
strange sight in the Moscow Patriarchate. I don’t mean that literally,
of course. I met one of them on my first day on the job in the KGB’s
Intelligence Headquarters in Yasenevo in 1977.
I remember how amazed I was by the long
corridors, seemingly kilometers-long, along which scurried hundreds of
men in business suits and ties. Their coat jackets were perfectly
buttoned-shut, their hair was parted neatly in the middle. Their
overall slicked-back appearance was supposed to attest to their highest
level of loyalty. And suddenly an officer with a bushy red beard passed
me in the corridor. What a remarkable appearance, so totally
out-of-place for a Communist-chekist?!
“Don’t be alarmed, he has grown a beard
at the instruction of his Intelligence supervisor!” a friend of mine
explained laughing. He worked in the personnel department. “Right now
this high-level employee is gaining experience in the foreign section of
the Patriarchate, and soon he’ll be leaving for an overseas assignment.
My friend didn’t disclose exactly where
the bearded KGB officer was being sent, in keeping with the KGB’s
conspiratorial protocol, however, he did tell me a story about a
professor he knew in the Red-Bannered Institute of the KGB, (Today it is
the Academy of Foreign Intelligence) who kept a cassock next to his KGB
Colonel’s dress-jacket hanging in his closet. When Patriarch Pimen would
travel overseas, the professor/colonel would don the cassock and join
In those years a young supervisor of
external Counter-Intelligence, General Oleg Kalugin, arrived in East
Berlin to inspect the KGB residence. On one of those days, Colonel Ivan
Nazarovich Gumeniuk, came up to him and invited him to stop by at the
Russian Cathedral that evening.
“I will be serving there,” explained
He served in church so professionally,
that the parishioners who came up to get his blessing, were convinced
that they were kissing the hand of Father John, and not the hand of
“Wow, you really came across great!
Just like a real priest.” General Kalugin told him enthusiastically the
next morning when they met at the residence.
Such “just like the real thing” priests
formed the staff of MP churches all over the world, although in the
friendly Arab countries, they practically made up the entire clergy
there. The local Muslim counter-intelligence closed their eyes to it,
since the priests-chekists worked against the West.
These people didn’t always have a happy
life. The Lord sent them many trials and tribulations. The children of
some began to have faith in God, which was considered unacceptable in
the family of a chekist. Others themselves began to believe. Their
chekist-colleagues would sniff it out immediately, and that would be the
end of their careers. In my book, “KGB in Japan” (Moscow, “Tsentrpoligraph”,
2000), I wrote in detail about the KGB’s pseudo-priests.
Where are these pseudo-priests now?
Have they remained among the clergy of the Moscow Patriarchate?
In the West it is customary to assume
that these clerics have evaporated into thin air. But why? Is there
even one Russian State enterprise which has purged itself of its KGB
agents, as had taken place in some other former socialist countries
after the fall of Communism? Unfortunately in Russia this was squashed
by the powerful Communist lobby. There definitely were no purges of the
KGB within the MP, today’s greatest fan of the Soviet past.
I am aware of only one attempt. It
took place in the newspaper “Izvestia” (“News”) right after the fall of
the August putsch in 1991. The then editor-in-chief, Igor Golembiovsky,
called all the chekists into his office, all those who were working in
his newspaper as journalists, and suggested that they either resign from
the newspaper or from the KGB. He told them that he was no longer
willing to put up with them working in both capacities.
Golembiovsky was never forgiven for his
independent thinking, and in Putin’s Russia he is persecuted. Aleksey
II, on the other hand, remains at the peak of his glory. The conclusion
one can make, of course, is that no chekists were ever expelled from his
The collaboration of the MP with the
KGB, unfortunately, is not a thing of the past, as many prefer to
believe in the West. With Putin in power, it has even increased. The
reason for this is the new social structure, which Plutin has managed to
create in Russia: the State of Special Services. Internal policies and
propaganda is under the FSB, whereas the external is under the SVR. All
other departments report to them. Participating in today’s Russian
political life, it is impossible to avoid contact with Intelligence and
Counter-Intelligence. The MP gladly utilizes its Soviet experience
For instance, Putin’s flirtation with
the North Korean dictator, Kim Jong Il, is held in strictest confidence,
in order to keep Americans in the dark. The MP, however, is involved,
and takes a most active role in it.
In August, 2006 an MP church, dedicated
to the Holy Trinity, was opened in Pyongyang, although religion is
forbidden in North Korea, and belief in God is considered a political
crime. But Kim Jong Il made an exception for his Russian friend. The
construction was financed mostly by Russian money, but Kim Jong Il also
kindly carved out about a million dollars from the budget of his
poverty-stricken country for the construction of the church. This gave
him the privilege of being considered a “founder of this temple”.
“For the founder of this temple, let us
pray to the Lord!” the Russian deacon will proclaim at each service
daily. To make the North Korean dictator an object of religious
worship – this is something previously unattainable by any Western
president! The appearance on a Russian church in the capital of North
Korea, the first stone of which had been laid in June of 2003, is a sign
of a great personal friendship between Kim Jong Il and Putin, to spite
On this occasion, Kim was so kind as to
establish a new government office, “The Orthodox Committee of the DPRK”
although there have not been any Orthodox believers in this country for
more than fifty years.
A delegation of this bogus Committee
recently went to Moscow. Within the MP, the delegation only visited one
office, besides the Department of External Church Relations. And what
might that be? The Department on Collaboration with the Armed Forces
and Law Enforcement Agencies. It’s interesting, what did this
delegation need there? It looks like Kim Jong Il considers the MP a
militarized organization, meant for resolving special tasks.
The appearance of the Russian church in
Pyongyang creates a channel for secret contacts for both leaders, a
channel inaccessible to international control. No one could possibly
know what type of epistles the silent priests in black robes will begin
to bring into Pyongyang.
This channel is especially valuable
because all other channels are open to scrutiny by the Americans. For
instance, Bush could ask Putin at one of their meetings:
“Tell me, my friend Vladimir, are you
engaged in some kind of clandestine hanky-panky with Kim Jong Il?”
And Putin would be forced to explain
himself, because Intelligence checks everything. But in questions
regarding religious contacts, Putin will have the right to reply:
“Well that, my dear friend, is non of
your business. Faith – is sacrosanct!”
And Bush will have no come-back because
his government truly does not get involved in matters of the Church.
In the Moscow Theological Academy,
presently there are students from North Korea. Where did they come
from? If they were truly believers, they would have been imprisoned.
The answer is obvious – they are from the Ministry of State Security.
Kim Jong Il is creating an Orthodox Church patterned after Stalin’s
church, with the hands of the chekists, the security forces.
But all of the officers of friendly
Special Services accredited in Russia, are under the inconspicuous
patronage of the Service of Foreign Intelligence. They are invited to
resorts, to closed meetings, to banquets. It is interesting whether the
North Korean seminarians, leaving the Lavra (monastery) for Moscow, tell
their spiritual advisor something like the following: “Bless us,
Father, to go to the Reception House of the Service of Foreign
Intelligence, which is located in Kolpachniy Lane”?
The MP also “lit up” in the spy scandal
which erupted after the murder of the former Chechen leader, Zelimkhan
Yandarbiyev in Qatar by Russian agents. In February, 2004 they blew up
the car Yandarbiyev was entering after he left a mosque, and were
One of the arrested Russian agents
happened to be the local resident of the GRU (Military Intelligence).
Since his diplomatic immunity did not allow for him to be imprisoned, he
was released. But two others didn’t have diplomat immunity, and were
retained for a long time. They immediately admitted to their membership
in the GRU, attesting to the fact that Russia is involved in
international terrorism. The same terrorism, with which it so
passionately appeals for the world to fight. Putin was furious. He
applied tremendous efforts to get the unfortunate terrorists released,
but his efforts were futile.
Then a stream of Russian
representatives began to flow into Qatar. Many officials under various
pretexts all tried to break into the jail cell, but the Qatar
authorities would allow no on to see them due to security precautions.
They were so right in doing so since the killers needed to be
liquidated. All that was needed was to smuggle a tiny ampoule under
one’s finger nail into the prison cell. Then you would break it open,
emitting a colorless substance inside the cell. Within minutes, the
person is gone, and as Comrade Stalin used to say: “No person, no
In despair, Moscow decided to utilize
its most unfailing helper for tricky assignments – the Moscow
Patriarchate. Bishop Theofan, of Stavropol and Vladikavkaz, flew to
Qatar, making it look as though the poor suffering officers imprisoned
there, were so deeply religious, that they would rather listen to
sermons of a bishop than to break bread. And not just any bishop, but
specifically Theofan, known for his contact with Intelligence. Prior to
this, he served for many years in the Department of External Church
Relations, where he was an intimate of Metropolitan Cyril, whose code
name in KGB files says: “Mikhailov”.
Qatar did not let him in either. It is
possible that they knew that the MP is a cover for espionage. Besides,
the faith of the agents had left great doubts, since inside the exploded
car, Yandabiyev’s young son had also been injured. It is unlikely that
a believing Christian would decide to kill an innocent child. Even the
socialist-revolutionary terrorists who, in 1905, blew up the car with
Grand Duke Sergey Alexandrovich, who was the Governor-General of Moscow,
at first refused to make the attempt on his life, seeing that he was in
the car with his children. Yet these loser-terrorists had been to
Chechnya, where the GRU tortures and kills people. Since they were sent
to Qatar to do the assignment, it is reasonable to assume that they did
everything themselves. The resulting problems, one can attribute to the
punishing hand of God. It would have been better for Bishop Theofan to
visit the thousands of innocent people, rotting in Russia’s prisons.
The Moscow Patriarchate is amazingly
merciful toward murderers fulfilling presidential orders. In 2004,
Aleksey II awarded Dmitry Pavlichenko, a Colonel of the Belorussian
Special Services, with the Medal of the Equal-to-the-Apostles Prince
Vladimir. He was the infamous organizer of the “squadrons of death”,
which liquidated political enemies of President Lukashenko. The MP
Exarch (Representative) in Byelorussia, Metropolitan Philaret,
personally petitioned for this award. His stated reasoning was that in
a garrison under Pavlichenko’s control, a church had been built. The
occasion was clearly not synchronized with the high status of the Medal
“Novaya Gazeta” (“New Newspaper”)
published an article about this under the heading “Church of Special
Purpose” in August, 2004. “The awarding of Dmitry Pavlichenko with the
Holy Equal-to-the-Apostles Prince Vladimir Medal is beyond any logical
explanation. Because you don’t need to travel to Belarus to see newly-
constructed churches scattered on garrison and prison territories.
There are more than enough of those in Russia, as well. But for some
reason those, who construct churches in Russia do not receive medals
for it. Could it be that the Patriarch and his Metropolitan have
decided that he, who, with his own hand sends people to God, is worthy
of this high church award?” wrote the newspaper.
“No one in Europe doubts that
Pavlichenko, as well as Sheiman and Sivakov, the former Secretary of the
Security Council and the Minister of Internal Affairs respectively, were
participants in the organization and execution of the murders.”
continues the newspaper. “That’s why the Greek authorities refused to
allow Sivakov, who now holds the position of Minister of Sport and was
supposed to head the Olympic delegation, entry into Athens. The
European Community made a special declaration on this point. And
exactly in three days, the Russian Orthodox Church awards Pavlichenko
this medal. A coincidence, one could say. Or is it the Russians’
“reply to Chamberlain”?
Svetlana Zavadskaya, the wife of Dmitry
Zavadskiy, the ORT (Russian Television) camera man who was kidnapped
on July 7, 2000, said: “It is very sad that the Russian Orthodox Church
awards its second highest Medal in Russia to Dmitry Pavlichenko, who is
known in the civilized world as a person suspected of being an
accomplice in kidnappings and murders of people. As a believer, I am
deeply offended by this. The Orthodox Church in Russia and Belarus is
so highly politicized, that for me, clearly, it would be better to
commune with God directly, without intermediaries.”
Yet here, among Russian immigrants, the
sentiments are diametrically opposite those just expressed -- many have
dreamed of unifying with the Moscow Patriarchate. Why?