Kremlin's Religious Crusade

The Kremlin's Religious CrusadeBy: Ion Mihai Pacepa | Tuesday, June 30, 2009

If you think that Russia has become a friend of ours, think again. Let’s not spend all our money on welfare and global warming. The recent “election” of Russia’s new patriarch shows that we still need to defend ourselves against the Kremlin’s imperial dreams.

Since ancient times the Kremlin has used religion to manipulate people. The tsars employed the Church to instill domestic obedience. The Soviet rulers kept the population quiet through the KGB, but they dreamed about world revolution. After the home front had calmed down, they charged the KGB to work through the church to help the Kremlin expand its influence into Latin America and beyond—since Peter the Great, Russian tsars have been obsessed with finding a way to break into the New World.

Creating a secret intelligence army of religious servants and using it to promote the Kremlin’s interests abroad was an important task the KGB community had during the 27 years I belonged to it. Thousands of uncooperative religious servants were killed or sent to gulags. The compliant ones were used. Since priests were not allowed to become KGB officers, they assumed the position of cooptee or deepcover officer. A cooptee received perks from the KGB (promotions, trips abroad, foreign cigarettes, foreign beverages, etc). A deepcover officer enjoyed the same perks, plus a secret supplementary salary according to his real or imaginary KGB rank. To preserve their secrecy, all priests who became cooptees or deepcover officers were known inside the KGB only by their code names.

Recent revelations show that the KGB continues along the same religious crusade as before, although it has meanwhile been discreetly renamed the FSB[1] to promote the idea that the criminal Soviet political police, which killed over 20 million people, has been dispersed to the winds of change.

On December 5, 2008, the Russian patriarch Aleksi II died. The KGB had carried him under the codename “DROZDOV” and awarded him its Certificate of Honor, as was learned from a KGB archive accidentally left behind in Estonia.[2] For the first time in its history, Russia could now democratically elect a new patriarch.

On January 27, 2009, the 700 Synod delegates assembling in Moscow were indeed presented with a slate listing three candidates. All, however, belonged to the secret KGB army: Metropolitan Kirill of Smolensk worked for the KGB under the code name “MIKHAYLOV”; Metropolitan Filaret of Minsk has just been identified as having labored for the KGB under the codename “OSTROVSKY”; Metropolitan Kliment of Kaluga was recently discovered to have been listed under the codename “TOPAZ”.[3] 

When the bells at Christ the Savior Cathedral in Moscow announced that a new patriarch had been elected, Metropolitan Kirill, aka “MIKHAYLOV,” proved to be the winner. Presumably, the KGB/FSB considered him to be in a better position to carry out its tasks abroad, where he had directed his efforts during most of his professional life. In 1971, the KGB had sent him to Geneva (Switzerland) as a representative of the Russian Orthodox Church to the World Council of Churches (WCC), the largest international ecumenical organization after the Vatican, representing some 550 million Christians of various denominations throughout 120 countries. His task was to use his position in the WCC to spread the doctrine of Liberation Theology—a Marxist religious movement born in the KGB—throughout Latin America. In 1975, the KGB had infiltrated “MIKHAYLOV” into the WCC’s central committee, and in 1989 the KGB had appointed him chairman of the Russian patriarchate’s foreign relations as well—positions he still held when he was “elected” patriarch. Indeed, in his acceptance speech “MIKHAYLOV” announced that he would establish religious television channels in Russia that would broadcast abroad.

The fact that “MIKHAYLOV” is incidentally a billionaire perhaps also made him a better fit, for Russia is now run by a KGB kleptocracy—my former KGB colleague, Vladimir Putin, who co-owns Russia’s gas reserves, has become one of the wealthiest men in Europe. For his part, “MIKHAYLOV” has been involved in the duty-free tobacco business, the license for which was given to him by Putin’s government—itself composed mainly of former KGB officers.[4]

My first contact with the KGB effort to use religion to expand the Kremlin’s influence abroad took place in 1959. “Religion is the opiate of the people,[5]” I heard Nikita Khrushchev say, citing Marx’s famous dictum, “so let’s give them opium.” The Soviet leader had come to Bucharest together with his spy chief, General Sakharovsky, my de facto boss at that time, who in 1949 had created the Securitate, Romania’s equivalent of the KGB, and became its first Soviet adviser. Khrushchev wanted to discuss a plan for taking over West Berlin, which had become the escape-hatch through which over three million East Europeans had fled to the West.

At that time I was acting chief of the Romanian Mission in West Germany and chief of Romania’s intelligence station there, and as a “German expert,” I attended most of the discussions. “We'll get Berlin,” Khrushchev assured us. His “secret weapon” was Cuba. “When the Yankees learn we’re in Cuba, they’ll forget West Berlin and we’ll take it over as well. Then we’ll use Cuba as springboard to launch a KGB-devised religion into Latin America,” which Khrushchev portrayed as an already besieged citadel that would soon surrender to the Kremlin. Convoluted? Absolutely, but that was how communist tyrants’ minds worked.

Khrushchev called the new KGB-invented religion Liberation Theology. His penchant for “liberation” was inherited by the KGB, which later created the Palestine Liberation Organization, the National LiberationArmy of Columbia (FARC), and the National Liberation Army of Bolivia. Romania was a Latin country, and Khrushchev wanted our “Latin view” about his new religious “liberation” war. He also wanted us to send a few priests who were cooptees or deepcover officers to Latin America, to see how “we” could make his new Liberation Theology palatable to that part of the world. Khrushchev got our best effort.

Launching a new religion was a historic event, and the KGB had thoroughly prepared for it. At that very moment, the KGB was building a new international religious organization in Prague called the Christian Peace Conference (CPC), whose task would be to spread Liberation Theology within Latin America. Unlike Europe, the Latin America of those years had not yet been bitten by the Marxist bug. Most Latin Americans were poor, devout peasants who had accepted the status quo. The KGB intended to infiltrate Marxism into their countries with the help of the Christian Peace Conference, which was designed to quietly incite the peasants to fight “institutionalized poverty.”

We Romanians were to contribute to the CPC staff with a small army of cooptees and deepcover officers. To preserve the secrecy of the whole operation, we were also ordered to transform all our own religious organizations involved in foreign affairs into secret intelligence entities.

The new CPC was subordinated to the venerable World Peace Council (WPC), another KGB creation, founded in 1949 and now also headquartered in Prague. As a young intelligence officer I had worked for the WPC, and later I managed its Romanian operations. It was as purely KGB as it gets. In 1989, when theSoviet Union was on the verge of collapse, the WPC publicly admitted that 90% of its money had come from the KGB.[6]

The WPC published a periodical in French, Courier de la Paix, printed in Moscow. The Christian Peace Conference published a periodical in English, CPC INFORMATION, edited by the KGB, which introduced the CPC to the world as a global ecumenical organization concerned with the problems of peace. The CPC’s covert task, however, was to incite hatred against capitalism and consumerism throughout Latin America, and to spread Liberation Theology into that part of the world.

Until quite recently, I believed that Liberation Theology was just another of Khrushchev’s harebrained schemes, and that it would go down history’s drain along with him. New revelations from KGB archives, however, suggest that Liberation Theology may have succeeded beyond Khrushchev’s wildest dreams.

In 1968, the KGB-created CPC was able to maneuver a group of leftist South American bishops into holding a Conference of Latin American Bishops at MedellinColombia. The Conference’s official task was to ameliorate poverty. Its undeclared goal was to recognize a new religious movement encouraging the poor to rebel against the “institutionalized violence of poverty,” and to recommend it to the World Council of Churches for official approval. The Medellin Conference did both. It also swallowed the KGB-born name “Liberation Theology.”

Liberation Theology was then formally introduced to the world by the World Council of Churches. Recent disclosures show that a whole army of KGB cooptees and deepcover officers was sent from Moscow to help.[7] Here are a few excerpts from original KGB documents known as the Mitrokhin Archive (described by the FBI as the most complete and extensive intelligence ever received from any source), and from Politburo documents released by Father Gleb Yakumin, vice chairman of a Russian parliamentary commission that investigated the KGB’s manipulation of the church.

August 1969:  Agents “Svyatoslav,” “Adamant,” “Altar,” “Magister,” Roschin,” and “Zemnogorskiy” were sent by the KGB to England to participate in the work of the Central Committee of the World Council of Churches. The agency [KGB] managed to thwart hostile activity [against Liberation Theology], and agent “Kuznetsov” managed to penetrate the WCC directorate.

“ADAMANT,” who headed this KGB assault group, was Metropolitan Nikodim. “KUZNETSOV” was Aleksey Buyevsky, lay secretary of the patriarchate’s foreign relations department headed by Nikodim.  

February 1972: Agents “Svyatoslav” and “Mikhailov” went to New Zeeland and Australia for sessions of the Central Committee of the WCC.

As previously noted, “MIKHAYLOV” is Kirill, now the new Patriarch of Russia.

July 1983: 47 agents of the KGB organs among religious authorities, clergy, and technical personnel from the USSR delegation were sent to Vancouver (Canada) for the 6th WCC General Assembly.

August 1989: The Central Committee of the WCC organized a special session on perestroika. … Now the agenda of the WCC is also our agenda.[8]

The Mitrokhin Archive, containing some 25,000 pages of highly confidential KGB documents, represents a minuscule part of the whole KGB archive, estimated to be some 27 billion pages (the East German Stasihad 3 billion). If this KGB archive is ever really opened without being sanitized, it will tell a truly frightening story.

In 1984, Pope John Paul II charged the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, led by Cardinal Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI, to prepare an analysis of Liberation Theology. That devastating study exposed Liberation Theology as a combination of “class struggle” and “violent Marxism,”[9] giving it a serious blow.

The KGB-created Liberation Theology is, however, is still growing roots in VenezuelaBoliviaHondurasand Nicaragua, whose peasants support the attempts of Marxist dictators Hugo Chavez, Evo Morales, Manuel Zelaya (momentarily exiled to Costa Rica) and Daniel Ortega to transform their countries into KGB-style police dictatorships. A few months ago Venezuela and Bolivia booted out the U.S. ambassadors during the same week, and called for Russian military protection. Russian military ships and bombers are now back in Cuba—and newly in Venezuela—for the first time since the Cuban missile crisis. Brazil, the world’s tenth largest economy, seems to be following step under her Marxist ruler, Lula da Silva, who in 1980 created the Partido dos Trabalhadores, a clone of Communist Romania’s Worker Party. With the recent addition of Argentina, whose current president, Christina Fernandez de Kirchner, is also moving the country into the Marxist fold, the map of Latin America looks mostly red.

When Liberation Theology was launched into the world, the KGB was a state within the state. Now the KGB is the state. Over 6,000 former KGB officers are members of Russia’s federal and local governments, and 70% of her current political figures have been affiliated, in one way or other, with the KGB.[10]

Soon after it moved its headquarters into the Kremlin, the “new” KGB/FSB decided to send nuclear weapons to arm the religious anti-American theocracy running Iran. At the same time, hundreds of Russian technicians started helping Iran’s mullahs to develop long range missiles that can carry a nuclear or germ warhead anywhere in the Middle East and Europe.[11]

The old KGB manipulation of religion has now become a lethal Russian foreign policy.

[1] Federalnaya Sluzhba Bezopasnost, the Federal Security Service of the Russian Federation.
[2] Seamus Martin, “Russian Patriarch was KGB agent, Files Say,” The Irish Times, September 23, 2000as published on
[3] “Russian Orthodox Church chooses between ‘ex-KGB candidates’ as patriarch,” Times Online, January 26, 2009. Christopher Andrew and Vasily Mitrokhin, The Mitrokhin Archive and the secret history of the KGB, (New York, Basic Books, 1999).
[4] Patriarch Kirril (Gunialev),
[5] Karl Marx, Contribution to Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy of Right, 1843, which was subsequently released a year later in Marx’s own journal Deutsch-Französische Jahrbücher, a collaboration with Arnold Ruge.  
[6] Herbert Romerstein, Soviet Active Measures and Propaganda, Mackenzie Institute Paper no. 17 (Toronto, 1989), pp. 14-15, 25-26. WPC Peace Courier, 1989, no. 4, as cited in Andrew and Gordievsky,KGB, p. 629.
[7] “Manipulation of the Russian Orthodox Church & the World Council of Churches,” as punlished on
[8] New Times (undercover magazine of the KGB published in English for Western consumption), July 25-31, 1989 issue.    
[9] “Liberation Theology by Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger,” Ratzinger Home Page, as published 
[10] According to Gary Kasparov, “KGB State,” half of the Russian governmental positions are held by former KGB officers. The Wall Street JournalSeptember 18, 2003, found at,,SB10638498253262300,00.html.
[11] William Safire, “Testing Putin on IranThe New York TimesMay 23, 2002, internet edition.

Lt. Gen. (r) Ion Mihai Pacepa is the highest Soviet bloc official granted political asylum in the U.S. On Christmas day 1989 Ceausescu and his wife were executed at the end of a trial where the accusations came almost word-for-word out of his book Red Horizons, subsequently translated in 27 languages.

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