Mayor of Tallinn Receives Orthodox Award From Moscow Patriarch

Interfax reports:

Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia on Wednesday conferred a high church honor on Tallin’s mayor for helping build an Orthodox church in Estonia’s capital.

The patriarch handed the insignia of the Order of Glory and Honor of the Russian Orthodox Church to Edgar Savisaar during a meeting in Tallin and again thanked the mayor for warm welcome he gave the patriarch during his visit to the city in June…

The construction of the Church… has been funded by ordinary Orthodox believers in Estonia with support from the Moscow mayor’s office and the Russian Foundation of Saint Andrew the First-Called.

The spiritual honour bestowed on Savisaar comes in the wake of more worldly advantage; the Baltic Business News reported in 2011:

Tuuli Koch, a reporter for Postimees daily, received the 2010 Bonnier Award, Estonia’s biggest annual prize for investigative journalism, writes Äripäev.

Koch won the prize for her story, published at the end of 2010, in which she revealed that Mayor of Tallinn Edgar Savisaar had secretly attempted to fund his political party and the building of a church in Savisaar’s electoral district in Lasnamäe through the deep pockets of Vladimir Yakunin, president of the Russian state-owned railway company.

Yakunin is a member of Putin’s circle, and he heads the Foundation of Saint Andew the First-Called; I’ve discussed him a number of times on this blog.

The timing is quite useful, too – Estonian Public Broadcasting notes:

Polling experts have attributed Savisaar’s political popularity to his outreach to Estonia’s Russian voters, including, most recently, in the form of building the Orthodox church and organizing the patriarch’s visit.

Receiving the order from the Russian patriarch could serve to further bolster that relationship ahead of municipal elections, set to take place on October 20.

I’m reminded of when Yakunin presented an award  to President of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev ahead of elections in 2011.

In 2008, Tallinn was one of two European Union capital cities (Riga was the other) that declined to sign a statement affirming freedom of assembly and expression for LGBT people in Europe; Savisaar took advice from from Tallinn City Council’s education and culture commission that the “good situation” of minorities in Tallinn meant that there was no need.

Savisaar is not the only foreign politician to receive praise from the Patriarch of Moscow; Kirill is also an enthusiast for Alexander Lukashenko.

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