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President Vladimir Putin’s spiritual adviser has been appointed to a diocese in annexed Ukrainian territory.
The Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church decided Wednesday to appoint Metropolitan Tikhon to head the Diocese of Crimea, located in an occupied region of Ukraine.
Tikhon is known to be a close ally of the Russian president and has been characterized as “Putin’s confessor” by experts.
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Russian President Vladimir Putin, right, listens to Orthodox Church Metropolitan Tikhon, left, during the opening ceremony of the monument to Prince Alexander Nevsky and His Guard in Samolva Villiage outside of Pskov, Russia. (Photo by Mikhail Svetlov/Getty Images)
In many Christian churches, a “confessor” is a priest who hears an individual’s confessions and offers absolution for sins.
Tikhon and Putin have been photographed together on multiple occasions, including in March of this year when the pair visited Crimea on the ninth anniversary of its annexation.
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Governor Sergei Aksyonov, who was installed by the Russian government following the territory’s annexation in 2014, has called Tikhon “one of the most famous and influential” prelates of the Russian Orthodox Church, according to the Moscow Times.
Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, center right, and Archbishop Metropolitan Tikhon, center left, visit the Saint Vladimir’s Cathedral in the ancient city of Chersonesus outside Sevastopol. (DMITRY ASTAKHOV/AFP via Getty Images)
Despite his close ties to Putin and the Russian government, Tikhon has tried to posture himself as sympathetic to the Ukrainian people since the invasion began.
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“We must speak about what we wake up with, what’s in our heads all day long, and what we go to bed with – it’s Ukraine,” Tikhon said in November 2022. “There is no doubt we are living through an unprecedented tragedy, a fateful stage in the life of our people, our country, and Ukraine.”
Heavily-armed soldiers without identifying insignia guard the Crimean parliament building next to a sign that reads: “Crimea Russia” after taking up positions there in Simferopol, Ukraine. (Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images)
“How will it end?” the bishop continued. “We shall pray that, of course, it should end with peace, and safely. Everyone is calling for peace now.”
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Tikhon — secular name Georgiy Alexandrovich Shevkunov — is currently serving as the bishop of Pskov and Porkhov.
He will take up the position left open with the retirement of Metropolitan Lazar of Simferopol.
Timothy Nerozzi is a writer for Fox News Digital. You can follow him on Twitter @timothynerozzi and can email him at [email protected]