Thanks to a close alliance between the Russian Orthodox Church and the Kremlin, religion has proved a particularly powerful tool in former Soviet lands like Moldova, where senior priests loyal to the Moscow church hierarchy have campaigned tirelessly to block their country’s integration with the West.
Nicholas, to the Moscow Patriarchate, which installed its own priests and rallied the faithful behind projects to warm France’s frosty relations with Russia.
For me, Russia is the guardian of Christian values,” the bishop said in an interview in a high-ceiling office decorated with a half-dozen portraits of past and current Russian patriarchs and a single picture of Moldova’s own senior priest, Metropolitan Vladimir of Chisinau.
Moscow has been looking for an imposing church in Paris ever since the city’s principal Orthodox site, the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, broke with the Russian church hierarchy after 1917 and transferred its allegiance to Constantinople.
Putin the quest to recover church property has resumed with vigor — in tandem with a drive to reach out to far right political forces in Europe seduced by the idea of Russia as a bastion of conservative social and cultural values.