Estonia expels Russian-backed Orthodox church leader over security concerns

Estonia has decided not to renew the residency permit of the head of the Estonian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate, Metropolitan Yevgeny (secular name Valery Reshetnikov). The cleric, who holds Russian citizenship, is required to leave the country by February 6 when his current residence permit expires, according to reporting by Delfi, citing the Estonian Police and Border Guard Board.

The Ministry of Interior officials have repeatedly spoken with the Metropolitan, urging him to cease publicly justifying Russia's attack on Ukraine, but to no avail. Consequently, Estonian authorities have deemed the cleric a foreign national who poses a threat to the state's security. Reshetnikov has lived in Estonia for four years.

"The Security Police assess that Patriarch Kirill of Moscow consistently engages in justifying and supporting the bloody aggression of the Kremlin regime against Ukraine. The activities of both Patriarch Kirill and Metropolitan Yevgeny have helped to disseminate and encourage Russian security policy in Estonia," explained Indrek Aru, head of the border guard bureau in Estonia's South Prefecture. The official stressed that the decision concerns solely Metropolitan Yevgeny and does not affect the Estonian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate and its followers.

On January 16, it was reported that Estonian authorities detained Russian national Vyacheslav Morozov, a professor at University of Tartu, on suspicion of working for Russian intelligence services.

  Estonia, Russia