Deputy Prime Minister Valery Simeonov, known as loose cannon, attacked the Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia, calling him a “cigarette bishop” and a “second-class cop”.
Simeonov is leader of the “National Front for Salvation of Bulgaria” (NFSB), one of the three nationalist parties in coalition with the centre-right government of Boyko Borissov. He gained international authority recently for having attacked in a similar way Ska Keller, co-President of the Greens/EFA Group in the European Parliament.
The bulky Deputy PM was inspired by the criticism by Patriarch Kirill expressed during a visit in the office of the Bulgarian President Rumen Radev on 4 March, for Bulgaria allegedly having downplayed Russia’s role in the liberation of Bulgaria.
In the meantime, the Russian Orthodox Church published a video of the Patriarch’s statements.
“Patriarch Kirill hasn’t descended from the sky, he hasn’t descended from Heaven, he is not the envoy of God Almighty Jesus Christ. Partiarch Kirill is famous as the cigarette bishop. Since 1996 he made 14 billion dollars. This dodger has imported excise-free cigarettes worth 14 billion dollars and wine for 4 billion dollars for the needs of the church. He has a private airplane. He has a villa in Switzerland. His watch costs 30 thousand. And the same guy has the insolence to give justice in front of the Bulgarian President. Just imagine our [Patriarch] Neofit to go to Russia, to stand in front of Putin and to tell him: “Who do you think you are? Don’t you know from where are Cyril and Methodius?” What would happen to him?”
Although the Russian and the Bulgarian Orthodox Churches are autonomous, there has been a great deal of rapprochement lately and the relations between Patriarch Neofit and Patriarch Kirill are excellent.
Simeonov also said that Putin had made a historic manipulation by suggesting the Bulgarian alphabet was invented by Byzantium.
He seems to refer to a statement by Putin from last May, when he said the Cyrillic alphabet came from Macedonian lands, a message seen as extremely offensive in Bulgaria.
He also said that Patriarch Kirill was no churchman at all, but “agent Mihailov from the Soviet KGB – proved”.