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NEWS: EU takes ‘Putin’s Priest’ Kirill off sanctions list after pressure from Hungary’s Orban

“PUTIN’S Priest,” the Head of the Russian Orthodox Church Patriarch Kirill has been taken off Europe’s individuals sanctions list.

Kirill, 75, an enthusiastic supporter of the invasion of Ukraine was removed from the asset freeze and travel ban listing after pressure from Hungary. The move was seen as necessary to get a partial EU ban on Russian oil imports signed off by Budapest.

“Kirill blessed the Russian soldiers fighting for the Russian World and Holy Russia in Ukraine,” said the earlier draft EU blacklisting, noting he had called the invasion “a religious cleansing operation” to purify Ukraine.

Kirill, formerly Vladimir Mikhailovich Gundyaev, is a former KGB agent and was listed by the EU as “one of the most prominent supporters of the Russian military aggression against Ukraine”.

Orban’s officials raised objections to the Russian religious leader’s inclusion on the EU’s blacklist which is part of a sixth Brussels sanctions package, potentially creating a new obstacle to the oil ban.

“We will not support the inclusion of church leaders on the sanctions list, this affects the issue of religious freedom in Hungarian communities and it is sacred and inviolable,” Orban said last month.

The Hungarian PM also insisted on oil ban exemptions for the Druzhba pipeline, which supplies Hungary, Slovakia, Austria and the Czech Republic.

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