Foreign Minister hits head of Russian Orthodox church with entry ban

Patriarch Kirill arrived at Tallinn airport on Friday morning.
Patriarch Kirill arrived at Tallinn airport on Friday morning. Source: Photo: ERR

Minister of Foreign Affairs Margus Tsahkna (Eesti 200) has reimposed a ban on head of the Russian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Kirill. The move derives in part from the expiry of an earlier government order on entry bans, as well as too entry bans on several other individuals not yet sanctioned by the European Union.

The minister said the entry ban on Patriarch Kirill and over 50 other individuals is in place as those listed are complicit in, or accessories to, grave human rights violations in relation to Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

"Patriarch Kirill is one of the greatest adherents to and proponents of Putin's ideology," the foreign minister via a press release Friday.

"It was about time he was blacklisted. He has justified and abetted the war against Ukraine," he went on.

 Noone who support Russia's abhorrent acts in Ukraine ist welcome in Estonia, Tsahkna continued. "I call on all countries to impose entry bans on all supporters and perpetrators of Russia's crimes."

The re-imposed Magnitsky list bars 58 named individuals from entering the country, including nine people who persecuted and imprisoned human rights advocate Vladimir Kara-Murza, as well as Patriarch Kirill.

The list needed to be reviewed as an entry ban imposed via a government order expired, leaving no data indicating accountability on the part of any of the individuals listed. "We also updated the list of people who have committed or supported grave human rights violations who are not welcome in Estonia," Tsahkna said.

In April last year, the European Parliament adopted a resolution condemning the role of Patriarch Kirill in Russia's war against Ukraine, while the NGO Human Rights Without Frontiers has appealed to the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) to hold Patriarch Kirill personally accountable for aiding, abetting and assisting the war against Ukraine.

Those who had persecuted Kara-Murza are not yet subject to EU sanctions, while others on the list have been linked to the death of Sergei Magnitsky, a whistleblower on corruption in Russia who died after nearly a year's maltreatment in a Russian prison.

"It is Estonia's position that the persecutors and imprisoners of Kara-Murza must be added to the global human rights sanctions regime," Tsahkna said. "We will continue to work towards the unconditional and immediate release of all political prisoners in Russia and holding the organizers of repression to account."

The Russian Orthodox Church in Estonia, Moscow Patriarchate, falls under Patriarch Kirill's auspices, and is headed by Metropolitan Eugene. The Metropolitan had had to distance himself from Kirill's statements on the Ukraine invasion, last year. Patriarch Kirill has in the past visited Estonia in an official capacity.


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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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