Russian bishop escapes EU sanctions thanks to Hungarian Prime Minister Orban

Eastern Orthodoxy, has justified Russia’s invasion on spiritual grounds, describing battle against the West and its “gay parades”

Russian+Orthodox+Church+Patriarch+Kirill+conducts+the+Easter+service+in+the+Christ+the+Savior+Cathedral+in+Moscow%2C+Russia%2C+April+24%2C+2022.+Kirill+has+been+removed+from+the+latest+round+of+European+Union+measures+to+punish+Russia%E2%80%99s+invasion+of+Ukraine+at+the+insistence+of+Hungary.

ALEXANDER ZEMLIANICHENKO/Associated Press

Russian Orthodox Church Patriarch Kirill conducts the Easter service in the Christ the Savior Cathedral in Moscow, Russia, April 24, 2022. Kirill has been removed from the latest round of European Union measures to punish Russia’s invasion of Ukraine at the insistence of Hungary.

BRUSSELS — Thanks to the insistence of Hungary, the head of the Russian Orthodox Church has been removed from the latest round of European Union sanctions punishing Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, four EU diplomats told The Associated Press.

The sixth package of sanctions, which includes an embargo on most Russian oil imports into the 27-nation bloc by the end of the year, was approved by ambassadors Thursday following a political deal reached earlier this week by EU leaders.

Patriarch Kirill of the Russian Orthodox Church had been initially among individuals the bloc wanted to sanction, but the proposal needed to be approved unanimously. It was removed at the insistence of Hungary, a nation perceived as Moscow’s closest ally in the bloc.

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban threatened to derail the whole package of sanctions at the leader’s summit unless he got guarantees his country would not immediately be affected by the oil embargo. Hungary is more heavily dependent on Russian energy than most EU nations.

The Hungarian government said sanctioning Kirill would have been inappropriate on grounds of religious freedom.

Kirill, the head of one of the largest and most influential churches in Eastern Orthodoxy, has justified Russia’s invasion on spiritual grounds, describing it as a “metaphysical” battle against the West and its “gay parades.”

If sanctioned, the bishop would have faced travel bans and an asset freeze.

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