Defense Minister Anatoliy Serdyukov met Patriarch Kirill yesterday, and only Rossiyskaya gazeta alluded to the possibility it might be a fence-mending effort following the Seltsy incident several weeks ago. Serdyukov had met Kirill previously, but the timing of this meeting sure looks like an effort to repair army-church ties.
Patriarchia.ru, Krasnaya zvezda, and Komsomolskaya pravda reprinted portions of the Patriarch’s comments:
“The Armed Forces are now undergoing a very important phase of reform, and we are attentively following what is happening.”
“The army in Russia was always a powerful patriotic force influencing the mood of society, and the well-being of people. The army was always an elite of our society, including intellectual and cultural. Therefore I am deeply convinced the Armed Forces reform, which assumes an entire series of very important organizational decisions, scientific-technical and simply technical, must include both spiritual and cultural dimensions.”
Defense Minister Serdyukov told the Patriarch:
“It’s always pleasant for me when there’s a chance to meet with you, to discuss these or other issues connected with reform.”
“This reorganization now being conducted is a deliberate, calculated process and, as the initial results already show, quite effective.”
According to RG and KP, Serdyukov told Kirill about plans to open a center for regimental priest training on the base of one of the military academies, most likely in Moscow. Alluding to the Seltsy problem, Serdyukov also noted the Defense Ministry now has a working group on the issue of constructing Orthodox Churches in military units. And Serdyukov repeated yesterday he never gave anyone an order to take down the church on the VDV’s Seltsy training grounds.