Bulgarian Deputy Prime Minister Valeri Simeonov sharply criticised Russian Patriarch Kirill for seeking to impose the Kremlin’s view of the Russo-Turkish War, describing the cleric as a former KGB agent – “a second-rate Soviet cop” who had no business lecturing Bulgaria’s President about history.
Simeonov was speaking in a March 7 interview with public broadcaster Bulgarian National Television, the day after Russia released video of Kirill’s comments to President Roumen Radev during the Russian Patriarch’s visit for Bulgaria’s Liberation Day celebrations.
Kirill’s visit was shrouded in controversy over Bulgarian leaders referring to the other countries, apart from Russia, that fought in the war against the Ottoman Empire that led to Bulgaria’s liberation.
“This Kirill is not descended from heaven…he is not the messenger of the Lord God or Jesus Christ,” Simeonov said. “Kirill is known as the cigarette metropolitan of Russia. From 1996, he got $14 billion from importing non-proprietary cigarettes,” the deputy prime minister said.
Simeonov said that Kirill had a private aircraft, a villa in Switzerland, a $30 000 watch “and he has the insolence to give judgment in front of the Bulgarian President”.
He asked what would happen if Bulgarian Orthodox Church Patriarch Neofit went to Moscow and started lecturing Vladimir Putin about history, with Simeonov imagining Neofit challenging Putin about the Russian president’s untrue claim that Saints Cyril and Methodius came from Byzantium. “What would happen to him?”
“And this is a spiritual person,” Simeonov said, referring to Kirill. “A spiritual person, when he mentions the victims of these battles, he takes out their bones and throws them out of history. What is he? He is not an Eastern Orthodox cleric. He is Agent Mihailov, of the Soviet KGB, that is proven. A second-rate Soviet cop coming to me to say what is true and not true? Excuse me,” Simeonov said.
A day before Simeonov’s comments, Kirill’s conduct also was called into question by two Bulgarian former presidents, Petar Stoyanov and Rossen Plevneliev.