The LetterSociety

‘Don’t you betray God by staying silent?’

Letter from jailed Russian politician Alexey Gorinov to Patriarch Kirill

‘Don’t you betray God by staying silent?’
Alexey Gorinov. Photo: Twitter
Note from the editors

Novaya-Europe received a letter from Moscow councillor Alexey Gorinov who was slapped with seven years in prison for “discrediting the Russian army”. Gorinov is speaking to Vladimir Gundyaev (Patriarch Kirill), the head of the Russian Orthodox Church, and asks him questions about how Jesus Christ’s teachings can be compatible with a war of aggression. We publish Alexey Gorinov’s letter in full.

To: Head of the Russian Orthodox Church

Mr. V. Gundyaev

Dear Vladimir Gundyaev!

I appeal to you, a Russian citizen who holds the highest office in one of the country’s most significant public institutions.

I am now serving a seven-year term in prison just for naming the so-called special military operation a war and an act of aggression at a local council meeting, for sharing with my colleagues the number of children killed in the hostilities, and for expressing my opinion that the fighting should stop. This is the price you pay in Russia now for freedom of thought and speech.

But it’s not about me now. I am willing to continue enduring the suffering imposed on me by my persecutors for my words and beliefs.

I want to talk about a different issue.

Why now, when Russia is waging a fratricidal war on the territory of a neighbouring state, we don’t hear the voice of the Russian Orthodox Church and yours personally, as its number one representative, in defence of peace? Why don’t we hear you calling on the political leadership of our country to change their minds?

What can be more vital right now for the Russian Orthodox Church and its ministers than a peacekeeping mission?

Instead, we see clergymen blessing our citizens heading to war to kill their kind and consecrating weapons produced to murder and maim people.

Does it all sit well with Christ’s teachings? Isn’t war considered the ultimate evil from Christianity’s point of view?

A constant stream of hatred towards Ukraine, its citizens, and freely elected officials rooted in Russian nationalism and imperialist chauvinism is pouring through mass media outlets controlled by the state.

We are told daily and hourly that Russia is surrounded by enemies wishing evil on it, while its armed forces only defend people on foreign territories who speak the same language as us and are being persecuted for it in their country. They defend them by waging a war against the same people as us.

Patriarch Kirill. Photo: EPA-EFE/YURI KOCHETKOV

Patriarch Kirill. Photo: EPA-EFE/YURI KOCHETKOV

But is it the way to solve issues between people and states in the 21st century? And did the lives of those who we defend become safer after Russia invaded its neighbour?

Does this war represent something that God can agree with?

Does God, who I hope you sincerely believe in, care what language people speak, what nationality they are, or what God they praise?

I am sure that if He exists, He loves everyone except those who strip others of lives He grants. Don’t you betray God by staying silent?

The injuries my father sustained in the Second World War deprived him of his chosen profession and affected his whole way of life. But he at least was protecting the Fatherland against an aggressor.

However, can our Church that cares so deeply about strengthening the moral principles of our citizens clearly explain to its flock what the Russian Armed Forces are doing in Ukraine? Since no one attacked us…

For what high cause hundreds of thousands of people die and get mutilated on both sides of the frontline that is not on the Russian territory?

For what Christian values do wives lose husbands, parents lose children, and children lose fathers or get them back as cripples that require life-long care? For what reason are new territories captured and incorporated into the country that is already the largest in the world?

I believe that our Russian Orthodox Church and you personally as its head should not keep silent when the events this tragic for our citizens take place. The events whose outcome will determine the future of our country and its nation.

I could be wrong about you, but I think that it is you, Patriarch Kirill, who can help our country to avoid a catastrophe and help us all to evade moral decay.

Forgive me if I unknowingly offended you.


Alexey Gorinov

18 January 2023

Penal Colony No. 3, Vladimir region


The letter from Alexey Gorinov

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