Direct clash between metropolitan and governor in Ekaterinburg over tsarist pilgrimage


Zavtra, 10 July 2021


On 8 July, Sverdlovsk oblast Governor Evgeny Kuivashev (a member of the Supreme Coucnil of United Russia, typical representative of the Sobianin clan, loyal associate and even, it is said, a relative of the Moscow mayor) forbade the traditional Tsarist Procession, which will be conducted in Ekaterinburg on the anniversary of the murder of Emperor Nicholas II and his family.


The head of the region wrote about this on his Instagram account: “This year we will not conduct the procession of the cross on ‘Tsar’s Days.’ Look at the photograph of the procession of the cross last year. There are no masks on participants and social distancing between participants is not being observed. At the time it seemed to us that the pandemic was on the decline, but this was only the end of the first wave. We have several proven cases where people fell ill precisely after the ‘Tsar’s Days.’ They suffered the illness rather severely. The new strain, which is spreading about the oblast, is yet more dangerous. Many more people are hooked up to oxygen. Therefore this year we are not permitting the event and we will not close the roads and going on the procession independently is dangerous.”


“Conducting any mass events, including a procession of the cross, is impossible,” the vice-governor of Sverdlovsk oblast, Pavel Krekov, a close associate of Kuivashev, snapped.


A bit later, Metropolitan of Ekaterinburg and Verkhotur Evgeny (the chairman of the synodal Department of Religious Education and Catechesis of the Russian Orthodox Church) reacted to the prohibition. The Vladyka noted that the procession of the cross on Tsarist Days will still be held and the decision to walk the twenty kilometers from the Church on the Blood/the All Saints Resplendent in the Russian Land Memorial Church on the Blood to the monastery of the Holy Tsarist Passion-Bearers in the Ganina Yama pit remains the independent choice of each citizen. With the maximum observance of safety measures. And despite the governor’s prohibition.


“The tradition of the public procession from the Church on the Blood to Ganina Yama has transcended the boundaries of so-called ‘events’ and has become for tens of thousands of people a sacred thing. And now people traverse a sacred path. It is obvious. Will they walk along safely closed streets? Or along narrow sidewalks beside dangerously speeding vehicles? Or ‘on goat trails’? Time will tell. In the present epidemic situation there cannot be ideal solutions. Each person will independently find a balance between courage and fear, responsibility and rashness, caution and daring. I will definitely go! The decision of the authorities not to permit the conduct of the Tsarist procession is reasonable. But it should not stigmatize believers as guilty of spreading infection. Our goal is not death from fear of the coronavirus or from the coronavirus itself, but life with God and in love for neighbor. I urge everybody to take maximum measures for protection of one’s own life and the life of neighbors. I pray that the Lord will preserve all of us in health and long life, and I bless you to combine caution and love of neighbor with your prayer,” he wrote on his Telegram channel. (tr. by PDS, posted 10 July 2021)



Credo-Press, 10 July 2021


The unfrocked theologian of the Russian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate and public figure Father Andrei Kuraev commented in an interview with URA.RU on 9 July about the stand-off between Sverdlovsk oblast Governor Evgeny Kuivashev and Metropolitan of Ekaterinburg and Verkhotur Evgeny. In Father Andrei’s opinion, the head of the region may replace the rebellious metropolitan with a more compliant one.


“The ball is in the governor’s court. If he wishes for his opinion to be taken into account when the patriarch names metropolitans in Ekaterinburg, then he surely may use this situation for changing the metropolitan,” Kuraev said.


As an example, the theologian cited Metropolitan of Saratov and Volsk Longin, who last year during the coronavirus restrictions did not submit to regional authorities and refused to close the churches for Easter. He soon left his post, in which he served 17 years, and was transferred to Ulianovsk. “Here, given the violent conflict and extreme youth of Metropolitan Evgeny, the conflict may well be aggravated and the patriarchate may be drawn into it. The governor may even wish for a blow-up if he has plans for a change in the metropolitan. I do not rule that out,” Kuraev concluded.


Earlier Sverdlovsk oblast Governor Evgeny Kuivashev cancelled the procession of the cross on “Tsar’s Days” because of the situation that has developed with the coronavirus in the region. Soon afterward the head of the Ekaterinburg metropolitanate of the RPTsMP, Evgeny, declared on his Telegram channel that it is imperative to hold the procession. “The tradition of a popular procession from the Church on the Blood to the Ganina Yama has become for tens of thousands of people a sacred thing. And now the people will traverse a sacred path. This is obvious. I certainly will go!” Metropolitan Evgeny wrote. (tr. by PDS, posted 10 July 2021)

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