Calling Patriarch Kirill a KGB agent is not an insult - Bulgarian court decision
On March 17, the Sofia District Court issued judgment no.20069484 in case no. 18199/2018 on Emil Milanov's claim against former Deputy Prime Minister of Bulgaria Valeri Simeonov. The court did not see Simeonov's words as slander against the Moscow church official.
Simeonov reacted so sharply to Kirill Gundyaev's public dissatisfaction with President Rumen Radev's speech at the celebrations in honor of the 140th anniversary of the liberation of Bulgaria from the Ottoman yoke.
According to Kirill, Radev did not clearly emphasize Russia's role in the victory over the Ottoman Empire.
Here is what Valeri Simeonov said on March 7, 2018, on Bulgarian national television (as cited by the court decision, abbreviations are disclosed in square brackets by the translator): "we must clearly tell people who patriarch K[irill] is. He didn't come down from the sky. He does not come from Paradise and is not a messenger of the L[ord] - G[od] or J[esus] C[hrist]. Patriarch K[irill] is known as the cigarette Metropolitan of Russia. Since 1996, he has imported 14 billion excise-free cigarettes. This cunning man imported 14 billion worth of excise-less cigarettes and 4 billion worth of wine for the needs of the church, again avoiding excise taxes. He has a private jet and a villa in Switzerland. His watch costs 30,000. And he still dares to bring the Bulgarian President to justice. Just imagine how our N[eophyte – that is, the Patriarch of Bulgaria] goes to Russia and stands as I stand here, opposite P[utin], starts knocking on his table (here the defendant knocks on the table) and says to him: "Where did you fall from?! Do you not know what C[yril] and M[ethodius] are like?.. What will happen to him?... And the one who claims historical manipulation... A religious person, when the sacrifices in these battles are mentioned. They are hindered by victims. They want to throw their bones out of history. What is he like? ... I'm telling you again. This is not an Eastern Orthodox clergyman. This is agent M[ikhailov], from the Soviet K[GB], proved to be a second-rate Soviet agent from the K[GB]. The same person who said that human rights are a new heresy. And he still dares to bring the Bulgarian President to justice. And now, this sly guy is going to tell me something».
Simeonov explained in court that his behavior could not have caused unlawful harm, since it was a comment on the behavior of a representative of a foreign state and his statements he made not as a spiritual and religious leader, but as the head of a foreign delegation, while a critical assessment of his motives and manifestations on political issues was made by Simeonov as a representative of the Government of the Republic of Bulgaria. He stated that the plaintiff did not have the authority to defend foreign subjective rights, except that the interests of the Russian Orthodox community, neither the religious dogmas and canonical disputes were referred to, but his statement as part of a public discussion on an important issue for the public. And in this case, the right to express an opinion takes precedence over the concerns of individual citizens on this topic.
Also, the ex-deputy prime minister noted that the category "Orthodox community", to which the applicant referred, is unclear and heterogeneous and unites millions of people with different views, so his words sounded in unison with the Orthodox tradition, which allows one to criticize the behavior of bishops of the church, according to the principle that there are no unconditional authorities, and that is why his words could not offend the feelings of Orthodox Christians. In addition, information about Gundyaev's behavior has been discussed and criticized by representatives of various Russian Orthodox communities for decades.
The court rejected the charges and ordered that the BGN 150 (about EUR 75) of legal fees be recovered from the applicant.
The expert in the case was a teacher of church law and the Charter of the Bulgarian Patriarchate at the Faculty of Theology of Sofia University, Prof. Dilyan Nikolchev.
The plaintiff Emil Milanov is a reserve general of the Ministry of Internal Affairs (former head of the "Police" Service of the Metropolitan Directorate of Internal Affairs), leader of the pro -Russian public organization "International Slavic community-Perun-2000", Secretary of the "Russophiles" movement, as well as chairman of the political party "Revival of Bulgaria".