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With the church split, parishioners of the ROC were forbidden to pray on Mount Athos. This is a favorite place of Russian officials.

From Putin to Chaika, Turchak and St. Petersburg governors.

Vladimir Putin in Stasidia – a place for high-ranking guests of honor of the Church of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary on Mount Athos, 2016. Reuters Photos

On October 15, the Russian Orthodox Church announced that it was breaking off relations with Constantinople because of its intention to give independence to the Orthodox Church in Ukraine. This means that the priests of the two patriarchs will not be able to serve together, and the congregation will not be able to participate in the sacraments of the other church without difficulty.

On October 16, the Russian Orthodox Church made a list of the temples of the Church of Constantinople in popular tourist destinations where parishioners from Russia cannot pray: these are the temples of Turkey – including everything in Istanbul, and in Greece – in Crete and the Dodecanese islands, the largest of which is considered Rhodes. The ROC mentioned another place – the mountain in Greece. “There is still Athos, which is also in the jurisdiction of Constantinople, but they don’t go there to rest,” said Igor Yakimchuk, secretary of the Moscow Patriarchate.

But the situation with Athos was ambiguous.

Secretary of Patriarch Kirill Alexander Volkov first said that the Orthodox from Russia now cannot pray on Mount Athos. However, later the representative of the Moscow Patriarchate Nikolai Balashov clarified that the ban implies only communication in the sacraments. “Does this exclude trips to Athos, pilgrimages to shrines – relics and miraculous icons in some northern Greek temples and monasteries on the Greek islands? Of course not, ” confirmedArchpriest Vladimir Vigilyansky.

It turns out that the situation is as follows: now the parishioners of the Russian Orthodox Church cannot participate in worship and other sacraments on Mount Athos. But no one forbade trips to the mountain for Orthodox from Russia. That is, you can come, but do not take communion. It is difficult to say how the ban will be observed.

Mount Athos in Greece is considered the canonical territory of the Patriarchate of Constantinople and one of the main holy places for the Orthodox. Women and even female animals are not allowed on the mountain : the ban on the peninsula monastery has been in effect for more than a thousand years.

Mount Athos is a favorite place of Russian officials and businessmen.

High-ranking Russian politicians up to Vladimir Putin repeatedly visited the Holy Mountain. Officials also poured money for Athos, most often, for the life of St. Panteleimon Monastery.

According to the Russian service BBC, since 2005, the cumulative amount of donations to Russians amounted to over 200 million dollars. In the fund created by Dmitry Medvedev alone , more than 2 billion rubles were collected for these purposes. In 2014, the municipal enterprises of St. Petersburg transferred 17 million rubles collected from citizens to Athos. In 2006-2010, monasteries received charitable assistance from St. Petersburg. The money was donated by businessmen Ivan Savvidi and Arkady Rotenberg, the former head of Russian Railways Vladimir Yakunin.

Here are some examples of politicians and businessmen who come to Athos.

Vladimir Putin

Putin’s trip to Athos was canceled twice : first due to heavy fog and then because of the events in Beslan. Nevertheless, he had already been on a mountain twice, the last time – in 2016.

Andrey Turchak

Secretary of the General Council of United Russia Andrei Turchak left for Athos a day before the ROC broke off relations with Constantinople, Dozhd reported . Turchak will be absent for a week, confirmed in the “United Russia”. The politician regularly visits the mountain: in 2017, he climbed to Athos in a vest and with the words “No one except us is behind the Airborne Forces.”

Andrei Turchak (center right) on Mount Athos. Photos from his instagram from October 14

Yuri Chaika

The Attorney General said that he regularly visits Athos: “There you are charging spiritually, you understand more clearly that in this life it’s really valuable.” In 2015, the Foundation for Combating Corruption, among other things, found outthat the son of the Prosecutor General, Artyom Chaika, bought a villa in Greece with a view of the holy mountain.

Sergey Naryshkin

In 2016, at that time, the State Duma Speaker visited the mountain for the first time . “This is real happiness – to be in this holy place,” said Naryshkin. Later he became the head of the Foreign Intelligence Service of Russia.

Naryshkin during the pilgrimage. Photo “Russian Athos”

Georgy Poltavchenko and Alexander Beglov

The former governor of St. Petersburg was listed as co-chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Russian Shrines Support Fund on Athos. Beglov, who came to replace Poltavchenko, headed the organizing committee of the Russian Orthodox Church for the celebration of the 1000th anniversary of the presence of Russian monks on the mountain.

Vice-Governor of St. Petersburg Igor Albin

Igor Albin. From the documentary film on its YouTube-Channel

Athos became especially popular among officials from St. Petersburg and the Leningrad region. One of the most frequent guests is Albin.

Ivan Savvidi

Ivan Savvidi (right). Photo ” Russian Athens “

The businessman and the owner of the PAOK club received a medal and thanks from Putin for preparing for the celebration of the 1000th anniversary of the presence of Russians on Athos. Savvidi is known , including participation in scandals: in March he interrupted a football match in Greece and threatened the judge with a weapon.

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