Russia Geopolitical Watch – From 4 February to 10 February 2023

Russia Watch Team: Olga Schevchuk, Arnaud Huss, Nicolas Girard, Corentin DelonAnastasia K.Erwann Leyral, Emeline Palvany, led by Ilinka Léger and Enzo Padovan.

This week: Russian Patriarch Kirill’s past spying for the KGB revealed, A drone explodes in the Kaluga region, Prosecutor General has applied to have the Freedom of Russia Legion recognised as a “terrorist organisation” on Russian soil, In the Sahel region, the second Russian diplomatic tour in Africa following the departure of French troops, Maps including occupied Ukrainian territories go on sale, The international investigation on flight MH17’s crash ends, with suspicions aimed towards the Kremlin, Serguei Furgal sentenced to 22 years in Russia.


05/02/2023: Russian Patriarch Kirill’s past spying for the KGB revealed – Nicolas Girard

On 5th February, two Swiss newspapers (Le Matin Dimanche and Sonntagszeitung) revealed that Russian Patriarch Kirill, current head of the Russian Orthodox Church, might have been a spy for the KGB in the 70’s in Switzerland. According to The Moscow Times, the Swiss newspapers have obtained the information through the Swiss national archives. According to their information, Patriarch Kirill had the mission to influence the World Council of Churches (WCC) in Geneva. The Patriarch’s nephew, who currently represents the Russian Orthodox Church at the WCC, stated that his uncle ”was not an agent, although he was subjected to ‘strict controls’ by the KGB”. Russian pro-government news outlets did not publish on this subject.

This statement of a link between the KGB and Patriarch Kirill, a proactive supporter of President Putin especially about the armed conflit in Ukraine, shows the relations between the current Russian political power and Soviet intelligence services. Andreï Kozovoï, lecturer at the University of Lille (France), explained that Vladimir Putin surrounded himself almost exclusively with former KGB officers since his first election in 2000 : ”at the end of his second term, in 2008, 70% of the high-ranking positions were held by former KGB or defence officers”. Thus, the Russian Patriarch’s past with the KGB echoes the willingness of President Putin to surround himself with individuals who have the same background and could potentially be more loyal to him.

06/02/2023: A drone explodes in the Kaluga region – Erwann Leyral

On 6th February, at around 5am, the inhabitants of the outskirts of Kaluga, a region located between the Ukrainian border and Moscow

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