Recently in Sofia a Trump Society was founded and its first meeting saw a number of politicians, businessmen, analysts and journalists known for their affection for Putin, the Russian interpretation of Orthodoxy and the former Bulgarian Communist Party with all its recurrent nationalist incarnations. In the autumn of 2015 many of these individuals participated actively in the media campaign against the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew’s visit to Sofia. According to information from the press, the campaign started after the diplomatic intrigue cooked by General Reshetnikov, Director of the Russian Institute for Strategic Studies (RISS), but the Synod of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church, State Agency of National Security (SANS), socialist MPs and pro-Russian journalists were its perpetrators and supporters in Sofia. The scandal provided an alibi for the Bulgarian Orthodox Church (BOC) to torpedo the Pan-Orthodox Council in Crete in June 2016 and to sabotage the canonical order of the Orthodox Church with its center in Istanbul (Constantinople) and its Ecumenical Patriarchate. This was, of course, carried out in favor of the “Third Rome” – Moscow – whose appetites for embezzlement and political ideologization of Orthodoxy go far back in time.
Today that scandal seems to be already forgotten. However, in the autumn of 2015, it was colored not only by nationalist hysteria but also with the hues of anti-Americanism, instilled by Russian residents in Sofia, who skillfully used the BOC for this purpose. Not only was Patriarch Bartholomew branded “a cunning and sly Greek” but also as an “American agent”, “CIA man”, a “freemason”, etc. Today, however, something bizarre is happening. The same people, who at the time were shouting most loudly against America, are now establishing a Trump society. Accustomed to the short memory of the Bulgarian voter stimulated by the media, they think that everything is forgiven and that everyone, even foreigners, have a short memory. This is hardly the case, however.
Flocked around the victorious image of Trump, they are missing an important detail. It turns out that the American Archbishop Demetrios, one of the most important clergymen of the Ecumenical Patriarchate and perhaps the future Ecumenical Patriarch, is himself standing very close to Trump and some of his fellow clergymen who report to him are leading personalities from Trump’s team. After the prayer by the new President in the National Temple in Washington, DC it was Demetrios who first greeted Trump and family. Behind him the other leaders of religious communities in the United States followed. Let us not forget that Demetrios was leading the common prayer at the Republican National Convention when Trump was nominated too. Also, an archon (i.e. a deserving person with extensive charity activities) of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, Reince Priebus, was appointed chief of staff of the White House just days ago. Surprisingly, the “happy news” was promoted in Bulgaria by the newspaper “Glasove“, used in 2015 to campaign against Priebus’ superior – Bartholomew. However, in the article published on November 16th 2016, exactly a year later, apparently due to embarrassment, the name of Archbishop Demetrios has been transcribed as “Dimitry” which is Russian. Still, who would check in “Who’s Who” in America anyway? What is significant is that there are already “Russians” on Trump’s team…
The man who was at the top of Trump’s campaign and is an important foreign policy adviser to him – George Papadopoulos – also turns out to be closely linked to the Ecumenical Patriarchate and is its archon. One of the first Trump team members and Deputy Assistant to the President and Director of Advance, George Gigikos, is also an active member of the Orthodox Archdiocese of America which is part of the Ecumenical Patriarchate and somebody close to Bartholomew. Another member of Trump’s team, Chris Marafatsos, a Cypriot chosen to represent the Greeks and Cypriots in the National Diversity Coalition, an association of minority groups in support of Trump, is also connected with the Orthodox community and is close to both the Archbishop of Cyprus Chrysostomos and to the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew. These people are closely linked to the lobby of wealthy Greeks in the US which provided the funds for the organization of the Pan-Orthodox Council in Crete in June 2016, sabotaged by BOC and other Russian satellites in the Orthodox world. They will not find it easy to forget the humiliation of Bartholomew in Sofia and the torpedoing of the most important event of the Orthodox Church for at least the last 500 years. Moreover, unlike a big part of the Greek society in Greece itself, very few among the Greek emigrants in the US have any illusions about Russia’s role in the modern world. They all bear the painful memory of the red terror in Northern Greece and the Civil War – the reason most of them emigrated to the New World. Also, started in the summer of 2016, the mega production by the famous American documentary director with influence among the Republicans, Michael Curylo, focuses, amongst other topics, on the hybrid use of Orthodoxy by the Russian services and foreign policy authorities. His chief advisor on this issue is again someone closely associated with the Ecumenical Patriarch, a professor of theology at Fordham University – Aristotle Papanikolaou.
In this situation Putin’s friends in Bulgaria will find it difficult to continue pretending to be “orthodox followers of President Trump”. Surely the Russian Orthodox Church and its satellites will soon be put in their place by the new establishment in Washington.