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Estland: Church cancels prayer for peace event after criticism from Ministry of Internal Affairs

09. Februar 2023

The Estonian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate announced that it is canceling a prayer for peace event scheduled for February 22 as part of the “Together for Peace” event of the KOOS/Together movement. The announcement comes after the Ministry of Internal Affairs criticized the scheduled event, saying the Church should stay completely out of politics. Minister of the Interior Lauri Läänemets told the Estonian outlet that he was satisfied with the Church’s decision to cancel the event, which would have been held at St. Alexander Nevsky Cathedral in the capital city of Tallinn, noting that had the event gone ahead as scheduled, it could have been the basis for expelling His Eminence Metropolitan Evgeny of Tallinn from the country.

The Estonian Church initially came under state scrutiny in September. The state called on Met. Evgeny to publicly distance himself from Patriarch Kirill’s statement that those who die in battle receive forgiveness of sins, which he did in October. Otherwise, the state had threatened to cancel his residency permit and expel him from the country.

Members of the KOOS/Together NGO are running in the upcoming parliamentary elections as members of the United Left Party of Estonia, and according to the Church’s statement, the leaders of the movement didn’t fully coordinate the event with the Church, which therefore became a victim of “political provocation.” “It’s with great regret that we must confess that our Church has become a victim of political provocation. We believed that the active citizens who came to us wanted to give a message—to call for prayer for peace—from the kindest of motives,” the statement reads. “The Church doesn’t participate in politics and can’t always assess the political consequences and political activities of some irresponsible figures,” it continues.

Prayers for peace in Ukraine and an end to the war are continually offered in all churches in Estonia. The Church wanted to participate in a special event on the eve of the anniversary of the war, but “the leaders of the KOOS/Together movement didn’t coordinate their actions with us, and we didn’t know anything about their planned event at the walls of Parliament and we had nothing to do with it. It was probably a planned political provocation,” the Church clarifies. Thus, the St. Alexander Nevsky Cathedral will be closed on February 22 to avoid any provocations.

The Church’s statement concludes: “Once again we declare that the position of our Church regarding participation in political activity remains unchanged. The Church is outside of politics, and therefore we don’t participate in any political or election campaigns.” (Quelle:, 31. Januar 2023)