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Estonia forcing Russian head of church to leave the country by February 6

Metropolitan Eugene of the Estonian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate.
Metropolitan Eugene of the Estonian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate. Source: Siim Lõvi /ERR

Estonia has decided not to extend the residence permit of Metropolitan Eugene of the Estonian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate who will have to leave the country by February 6. The interior minister believes Eugene's activities pose a threat to national security.

"Estonia decided to refuse to renew Metropolitan Eugene or Valeri Reshetnikov's residence permit because his public actions and statements support the aggressor, and he has not altered his conduct despite past warnings," Indrek Aru, head of the border guard bureau of the North Prefecture of the PPA, said in a press release.

Representatives of the Ministry of the Interior have repeatedly met with Reshetnikov to explain to him that he needs to stop vindicating the Kremlin regime and Russia's military actions in his statements. But despite past warnings, Reshetnikov has not altered his conduct, which is found to be incompatible with Estonia's values and legal environment. That is why Reshetnikov's actions pose a threat to security," the PPA said.

Reshetnikov's residence permit, which the PPA recently refused to renew, is set to expire on February 6.

The police said that when processing Reshetnikov's request, they looked at his activities as a representative of the Moscow Patriarchate in Estonia, his public statements and effects on internal security. The Estonian Internal Security Service (ISS) also provided its input.

"The ISS finds that Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and all of Rus, as head of the Russian Orthodox Church, has consistently vindicated and supported the Kremlin regime's bloody aggression against Ukraine. The actions of both the Moscow patriarch and Metropolitan Eugene have aided Russia's security policy in Estonia," Aru said, adding that it needs to be kept in mind that the Riigikogu declared Russia a terrorist state following the start of the full-scale war in Ukraine.

Reshetnikov has held a fixed-term residence permit in Estonia for four years. The last time his short-term permit was renewed was two years ago, immediately before the start of Russia's full aggression in Ukraine.

Indrek Aru added that the decision not to renew Reshetnikov's residence permit concerns his behavior only and has no bearing on the Estonian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate or its faithful.

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Editor: Mait Ots, Marcus Turovski

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