Updated at 13:19,16-08-2022

New patriarchal exarch says he does not mind acquiring Belarusian citizenship but will not give up his Russian citizenship

Anastasiya SALANOVICH, Naviny.by

Metropolitan Pavel, the new patriarchal exarch to Belarus, told reporters in Minsk on Wednesday that he was ready to acquire Belarusian citizenship but did not want to give up his Russian citizenship, BelaPAN said.

"Given the fact that Belarus and Russia form the Union State, there is probably no acute need for me to acquire Belarusian citizenship," Metropolitan Pavel said. "But I’ll tell you sincerely that I am ready to acquire Belarusian citizenship, without giving up my Russian citizenship, in order to display outwardly and legally that I am not an interim figure here."

According to Metropolitan Pavel, while he was being appointed to serve in Israel, Europe and the United States, his previous superiors and Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill told him that he should be entirely devoted to that particular country and its people or else he would not do anything.

Under Article 13 of Belarus’ Freedom of Conscience and Religious Organizations Law, only a citizen of Belarus may head a religious organization in the country. In addition, Belarus does not recognize dual citizenship.

Metropolitan Pavel was appointed patriarchal exarch to all Belarus by the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church at its meeting in Moscow on December 25, 2013.

Born Georgy Ponomaryov in Karaganda, Kazakhstan, on February 19, 1952 into a Russian working-class family, Metropolitan Pavel worked as a driver and locksmith before graduating from Moscow Theological Seminary in 1976. He graduated from the Moscow Theological Academy four years later.

Metropolitan Pavel served as the Russian Orthodox Church’s bishop in North America and Western Europe in the 1990s and the early 2000s.