London, Dec 05: Patriarch Alexy II, head of the Russian Orthodox Church, was passing information to the KGB, a British institute studying religion in communist countries said on Friday.
The patriarch, who died today at the age of 79, would have been required to pass on information to the Soviet secret intelligence agency as part of the job, the chairman of Keston Institute said.
"Every bishop of the Moscow patriarchy during the Soviet regime, any leading churchman would be asked to report to the KGB. This was actually nothing unusual," Xenia Dennen said.
"There is definitely evidence that he had a KGB nickname, as did a lot of the other Church leaders. There was only a very small minority who absolutely refused to co-operate."
Dennen said people who had access to the KGB archives in the early 1990s shortly after Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev's resignation saw documents showing that Alexy II had the KGB nickname Drozdov.
She said that under the Soviet Union, the Russian Orthodox Church was tightly controlled by the Communist Party's Council for Religious Affairs, which worked closely with the KGB and vetted every appointment.
"It's not surprising that a Church leader was sending in reports to the KGB," she said.
"Anyone during the Soviet period knew that leading hierarchs were having to put in reports. It was the only way that the Church could survive as a visible organisation."
She said it was "very unusual" for any Church bishop to admit to having informed for the KGB.
First Published: Friday, December 05, 2008, 00:00