The leadership of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church has come to the defence of President Roumen Radev amid the controversy over his meeting with Russian Patriarch Kirill which became a central event in the row over credit for liberating Bulgaria from the Ottoman Empire.
During Kirill’s visit to Bulgaria for Liberation Day, the anniversary of the end of the Russo-Turkish war that resulted in Bulgaria being freed from Ottoman rule, controversy erupted over the Russian Patriarch taking offence at Bulgarian leaders giving credit to other countries, alongside Russia, in these events.
Kiril was annoyed and heated about the matter, telling journalists so directly on his departure from Bulgaria.
In a statement posted on the Bulgarian Orthodox Church website, the Holy Synod’s public relations department said that during the conversation with Kirill, Radev had behaved “as a statesman”, treating Kirill with respect but also firmly defending his position.
The statement said that it was being issued “to clarify the confused messages” about the meeting between Kirill and Radev.
At the meeting, Kirill had expressed his “pain and disappointment” at the lowering of the role of Russia in the Russo-Turkish War, while honouring other countries, according to the Bulgarian church’s statement.
Radev had assured Kirill that the Bulgarian people had never ceased to give tribute to the Russian people, the Russian church and the soldiers of Tsar Alexander II’s liberating army, it said.
“At the same time, he (Radev) explicitly emphasised that, just as the church fights for the soul of every person, we are also grateful to the memory of every warrior who fought the Russian army and died for Bulgarian freedom, regardless of his nationality,” the statement said.
Kirill himself proposed to close the matter after the President reminded him of the Patriarch himself’s thesis of the power of silence. At the end of the conversation, Patriarch Kirill conferred his blessing on the Bulgarian president, but Radev said he had already received blessing at his presidential inauguration from Bulgarian Patriarch Neofit, the statement said.