The Notes from the Underground (NFTU) blog reports today (February 20, 2012) that the Russian Orthodox Church has flatly denied media publications stating that Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia traded in tax-free tobacco and oil in the 1990s -- and made billions of dollars on it.
The synodal information department said in a news release -- issued today -- that such publications "are false and deliberately defame the Holy Patriarch and the Russian Orthodox Church in general."
Today's news release also states that these allegations are based on "rumors and speculation, unchecked statements, and biased opinions."
The reports state that Patriarch Kirill was the leader in the 1990s in the profitable business of duty-free tobacco and oil trade, the license for which was given to the Russian Orthodox Church. They also allege that Kirill -- a metropolitan at the time -- was an informer for the KGB (Russian secret police). Kirill -- who was nicknamed "the Tobacco Metropolitan" because of his acumen in the trade -- has denied the allegations.