Head of Greek Church Says He Won't Kick Russian Monks Off Mount Athos If They Keep Their Mouths Shut

Originally appeared at: RIA

Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople stated that he was not going to cause persecution of Russian monks on Mount Athos during his visit, but they should "sit still" so they are not expelled. He made this statement in an interview with Greek public television, ERT, on the eve of his May 27-29 trip to Mount Athos, which is under the jurisdiction of the Constantinople Patriarchate.

"This is not my first time visiting the Holy Mountain as a pilgrim. I have been to the Holy Mountain eight times. Thirty years after God deemed me worthy and I am on the throne of Constantinople, I want to visit again to give thanks for this great blessing," Bartholomew said.

"Some strange things were said and written about my visit, that I was going to expel the Russian monks. These are myths. I have no intention of expelling anyone. I suppose they won't provoke me to do anything like that. Let them sit still so that no one gets kicked out. These are self-evident things," he added.

Earlier, antinews.gr wrote that the Greek government is preparing at the "suggestion" of Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople for mass expulsion of Russian monks from Mount Athos. The Athos monastic community has nothing to do with these plans and is against the expulsion of any of the monks, the community told RIA Novosti. "If they start to expel elders of Russian or Slavic origin, it will destroy the Holy Mountain. This will be told to the Patriarch during his pilgrimage visit," the monks believe.

According to information from Athos, police and special services are now being sent there. "The government instructed former Deputy Defense Minister Alkiviadis Stephanis to go and deal with the cleansing of Athos of 'Russian agents.' He is cooperating with the deputy civilian governor of Athos, Aristos Kasmiroglu. They are trying to find monks who do not have their documents in order or who are missing some documents. It could be an old photo, or the wrong birth certificate. As of Tuesday morning (May 24), there was a list of 86 names," said a source.

According to him, at the first stage should leave those who do not have "clean" documents. "And this is not only in the Russian monastery (Panteleimon) - in all monasteries, but the main thing is to put pressure on the Russian monastery. That is, the civil administration of the Holy Mountain will demand to rewrite the belongings of the monks. This is unacceptable to the monasteries, because they have values. The dictatorship tried to do this and failed, so did Hitler, but it never happened. The purpose of this census is to find out what the monks have brought in, because the authorities believe that there is some technology in the Russian monastery and in the Bulgarian monastery," the interlocutor said.

He noted that "all of this in practice cancels the autonomy of the Holy Mountain, it is the interference of the state in the life of the Holy Mountain." "This is not just an issue of Russian monks. That's why there is opposition from the monks," he said. According to him, the monks have discussed the situation with the civil governor of Athos Athanasios Martinos, the relevant documents have not yet been sent to Athos by the authorities.

Sources: ria.ru (Russian)

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