Metropolitan Yevgeny, the head of the Estonian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate, of Tallinn and all Estonia, has issued several controversial statements about Ukraine, even before the war launched by Russia. For instance, under his leadership, the Estonian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate joined the propaganda campaign against the independent Orthodox Church of Ukraine, created in early 2019.
Yevgeny was nominated to his position in 2018 by the Patriarchate of Moscow. He had no significant previous contact with Estonia.
After the full-scale war started in February 2022, Yevgeny issued a statement repeating his understanding that the church had nothing to do with politics. He made vague statements, calling for prayer for peace soon and claiming that political divisions and war must not divide Christians, but there was no condemnation of the Russian aggression in his statement.
This caused a debate in Estonian press and social media, where the matter of restricting or banning the activities of the Estonian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate in Estonia.
Other churches, including the Estonian Apostolic Orthodox Church (EAOC) and the Estonian Council of Churches, which brings together ten Estonian Christian religious associations, generally condemned Russia’s aggression and attacks on civilian targets.
Metropolitan Yevgeny of the Estonian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate, however, said he had agreed with the statement of the Council of Churches, but refused to recognise Russia as an aggressor.
His position is in line with that of Patriarch Kirill, who in recent months has spoken of foreign enemies of Russia and Ukraine trying to drive a wedge between the two peoples. It is difficult to say what motivates Yevgeny to issues such claims, but the fact is that his political line make it difficult to provide Russian-speaking Orthodox people living in Estonia with adequate information about the war in Ukraine.
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