The Inauguration of the Church of the Resurrection of Christ and New Martyrs at Moscow's Sretensky Monastery was celebrated by Patriarch Kirill of Moscow a few years ago. The church was previously located near Red Square, but it later moved northeast to Bolshaya Lubyanka Street. The President of the Russian Federation, Vladimir Putin, was present during the inauguration. He stressed the need for the approval of similar actions as proof of unity among Christian members and supported the crucial idea of gathering in today's complex and confusing world. He also engaged in discussions with American religious delegates at the end of the ceremony and thanked everyone for supporting Russians living abroad. In a broader humanitarian sense, he said, "We are pleased to see you in Russia. After all, all world relations and religions are founded on so-called traditional values. We owe you a big thank you," he concluded.
These words were both simple and powerful, but what was the real meaning behind them? To provide an explanation, we must journey back in time to Lubyanka Square in Moscow, where the KGB building, the notorious secret service, stood. While hundreds of agents offered their services in service of the Soviet Union's ideals, thousands of citizens were taken to detention cells for interrogation, often labeled as enemies of the regime.
The Sretensky Monastery, which has historical connections to Tamerlane's attacks and the preservation of the Great Hegemony of Moscow, was a destination for many of these agents. They would frequently record the activities of worshippers and possibly summon them for interrogation upon visiting the church. The monastery was forced to close in 1925, leading to the exile of the principal abbot and monks due to their unwavering faith. By 1930, it was decided to demolish its churches and relocate the icon-symbol of the Visitation to an art gallery.
But things changed with the collapse of the Soviet Union. Let us not forget that the KGB started to be disbanded by Boris Yeltsin, who created the FSB, constantly strengthening it. Also important to know is that the new ruler of the country was Vladimir Putin, a one-time KGB agent.
The monastery began to ring its bells again. In 1994, Tikhon Shevkunov, then aged 36, celebrated the first liturgy in the monastery together with a small brotherhood known as "Statenje," and a year later, he was appointed abbot. His relationships with Russian intelligence agents and other officials, including Vladimir Putin, have been steadily growing since then.
There are many rumors about the 'Sretensky Cycle' with alleged members like Vladimir Putin, Dmitry Medvedev, prominent military officers, businessmen, and clerics. Many believe that the cycle is filled with discussions about Russia's future and leadership. The most important meetings are characterized by the attendance of not only former agents but also current ones. Everyone is welcome from the church's side without exception. The authorities in the monastery assert that they do not discriminate against anyone. Both security services and non-security services are welcomed. They proudly support the idea that intelligence officers simply did their duty for the sole benefit of the Russian state.
While Vladimir Putin has visited Lubyanka Square many times in his lifetime, the significant event of knocking on the door of number 19 likely occurred in the mid-1990s, especially during his tenure as the commander of the Federal Intelligence Service.
It appears that the Russian president has an ecclesiastical background, as he has mentioned that his mother, Maria Ivanovna Putina, secretly baptized him in a Saint Petersburg church.
Tikhon's acquaintance was crucial for the Russian president’s spiritual pursuits, and the cleric has often described him as a devout Orthodox Christian. He once stated that Vladimir Putin is not merely a person by name but someone who confesses, communes, and comprehends the responsibilities he holds before God. Tikhon also describes Putin as an extremely interesting man and as an amazingly responsible individual, both in terms of personality and leadership. He emphasizes Putin's realistic worldview and, above all, highlights his deep love for his country.
It is believed that the relationship between the two men also began during that time, and now Tikhon Shevkunov is widely regarded as his spiritual mentor. However, there is no definitive confirmation of the relationship, and no one can conclusively disprove it.
The new Sretensky Monastery on Lubyanka Street currently operates a theological academy and school with over 120 students. The facilities include hygiene amenities and halls adorned with busts of ancient philosophers such as Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle, in addition to modern literary texts. Furthermore, the monastery houses a library with a vast collection of books in various formats, including electronic ones. The legacy of Byzantium is a popular subject, as evidenced by their documentary titled "The Collapse of the Empire: The Byzantine Lesson." Through this form of electronic art, they have been able to convey messages related to the Sretensky Cycle. According to some interpreters of the Cycle, Moscow is seen as the successor to Constantinople or New Rome, and they believe that Russia inherited the spiritual legacy of Byzantium. References are made to the first Rus who was baptized as a Christian, considering him an equal apostle to both Russians and Ukrainians. According to the Cycle, the fall of Byzantium is seen as a result of various faults among its inhabitants, including issues such as alcoholism, corruption, declining birth rates, and the erosion of family values.
It's worth noting that the study of Byzantium was halted during the early years of the October Revolution, but it was later revived under Stalin, who reinstated Byzantine studies.
Today, on Lubyanka Street, there stands a column erected by the late Patriarch Alexios in honor of those who endured torture and martyrdom in KGB detention cells. The severe repression during the Soviet Union era led to the emergence of a vast group of martyrs. This is why the church is named the Resurrection of Christ and the New Martyr Confessors.
With the church now ranked as the second-most trusted public institution in Russia, modern leaders have formed suitable alliances. Virtually all influential political and economic figures have offered financial and social support to the clergy and high priests. Many individuals also have a spiritual guide or confessor. A close examination of the Sretensky Cycle in Moscow may offer insights into potential solutions for the Ukrainian crisis.