Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia Kirill (Vladimir Gundyaev) congratulated the First Deputy Head of the Presidential Administration Sergei Kiriyenko on his 60th birthday and awarded him the Order of Alexander Nevsky II degree. This follows from the message on the official website of the Moscow Patriarchate.
“I highly appreciate the good cooperation that has been established between the Administration of the President of the Russian Federation and the Moscow Patriarchate,” the patriarch wrote in his congratulations.
At the same time, according to the Constitution of the Russian Federation, religious associations in Russia must be separated from the state. Moreover, Patriarch Kirill has been repeatedly criticized for supporting Russia's war with Ukraine and conducting state propaganda. In April, 190 priests of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate demanded that he be handed over to a church tribunal (meaning the Cathedral of the Primates of the Ancient Eastern Churches). Among the accusations leveled against the patriarch is the preaching of the “Russian world” doctrine, which is inconsistent with Orthodox teaching.
In May, the Russian Orthodox Church also published a speech by Patriarch Kirill in which he spoke to Pope Francis about "missile flight times" and NATO expansion.
In June, the UK expanded the sanctions list, which also included Patriarch Kirill. The restrictions include a ban on entry into the country, an asset freeze and restrictions on doing business with organizations that are associated with people from the "black" list. Following the UK, Canada also imposed sanctions against the patriarch in July.
Sergei Kiriyenko has served as First Deputy Head of the Presidential Administration since 2016. In March, the United States imposed sanctions against him in connection with Russia's invasion of Ukraine, followed by Japan in April. Earlier, Kiriyenko was already under EU and UK sanctions due to his involvement in the poisoning of opposition politician Alexei Navalny.
The Order of Alexander Nevsky is awarded to civil servants "for special personal services to the Fatherland", including "in strengthening the international prestige of Russia, the country's defense capability, the development of the economy, science, education, culture, art, health care." In 2011, Patriarch Kirill himself was awarded the Order of Alexander Nevsky by then-President of Russia Dmitry Medvedev "for special services to the country in the preservation of spiritual and cultural values."