The pro-Putin preacher the U.S. won't touch (2023)

He is one of Vladimir Putin’s most prominent supporters — a man of the cloth who offers spiritual cover for the autocrat’s invasion of Ukraine, all while suspected of profiting from that connection and ties to Russia’s security services.

But Patriarch Kirill, the head of the Russian Orthodox Church, has yet to be sanctioned by the United States, despite appeals by Ukrainian activists and others who see him as a destructive force in an already brutal war. The British and Ukrainians recently imposed sanctions on Kirill, while a European Union effort in early June was blocked by one country.

Kirill’s reputed wealth, friendliness with Putin and long-suspected ties to Russia’s spy and security outfits have drawn comparisons to the dozens of oligarchs whose Kremlin connections have led to a battery of U.S. sanctions in recent months. It’s his preaching, however, that detractors say is the biggest problem — but which also could be the very reason the U.S. hasn’t yet penalized him.

Kirill routinely urges his flock of millions to support Putin’s war effort, waving away any culpability over the invasion, while describing Russia’s opponents in Ukraine as “evil forces.” “We as a people have accepted the persecution,” Kirill said in a service over the weekend. “The feeling of love for the fatherland is growing and we see how our young guys are now defending Russia on the battlefield.”

In the days after the world learned about the massacre of hundreds of Ukrainian civilians in Bucha, Kirill attended a military church and commended Russians as “peaceful, peace-loving and modest people,” who will be ready to “protect our home” under any circumstance.

U.S. officials won’t say why they haven’t sanctioned Kirill, even as they insist they haven’t forgotten about him. “All options on [the] table,” a U.S. official said in an email. “We’re targeting higher value targets first.”

Some analysts and former U.S. officials, however, suspect Kirill’s case might be extra complicated because he’s a religious figure. Generally speaking, the United States avoids sanctioning religious leaders, in part out of concern that doing so could undermine America’s promotion of free speech and religious freedom. Biden administration officials also may be calculating that going after him could unnecessarily anger millions of faithful Russian Orthodox worshippers.

This is not a compelling argument for many Ukrainians watching their country being pummeled by the Kremlin. “As a chief cheerleader of the Russian regime, it is baffling that he has so far escaped sanctioning,” said Hanna Hopko, a former Ukrainian member of parliament.

American officials and politicians understand Ukrainians’ frustration, but some wonder if it’s worth going after Kirill when there are other Russians who could make for better targets. There’s also the possibility that sanctioning him could harden his support among Russians who could see the move as spiritual and cultural persecution.

“I’m not quite sure there’s any active interest in sanctioning a religious leader at this point in the United States Congress,” said Rep. Stephen Lynch (D-Mass.), who chairs the House Oversight subcommittee on national security.

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The American hesitation on Kirill comes as the conflict in Ukraine appears to be turning into a war of attrition with no end in sight. The Ukrainian calls for arms have become more dire, even as the United States and other Western nations continue to send advanced weaponry to the battlefield.

But after a flurry of initial, heavy sanctions on Russia following its full-scale invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24, the United States has unveiled fewer such penalties in recent weeks.

In Brussels, the European Union recognized Kirill’s influence and considered him in a sanctions package. While the EU pointed to Kirill’s support of the invasion and propagandist behavior, Hungary objected, declaring the move to be “inappropriate” and against “fundamental principles of religious freedom.” Hungary’s sole dissenting voice won out, and Kirill was left off the blacklist.

The U.K. chose to sanction Kirill largely because of his rhetoric. “Patriarch Kirill has made multiple public statements in support of the Russian invasion of Ukraine,” the British sanctions list states. “He therefore engages in, provides support for, or promotes any policy or action which destabilizes Ukraine or undermines or threatens the territorial integrity, sovereignty or independence of Ukraine.”

Divine interventions

There are 15 self-governing Orthodox churches led by nine patriarchs who operate as a leadership council within the Orthodox Church, a Christian denomination with an estimated 260 million followers worldwide. But Kirill’s influence outweighs other patriarchs, as he represents a membership of around 100 million faithful within Russia — making it the largest jurisdiction in Orthodoxy.

Kirill’s apparent connection to the Kremlin has enhanced his influence, and he clearly enjoys good relations with Putin in particular.

“It is gratifying to know that under your guidance the Church is engaging in fruitful interaction with the state, making a tremendous contribution to promoting traditional spiritual, moral and family values in society, educating the younger generation, and strengthening concord and mutual understanding between people in these trying times," Putin wrote in a letter to Kirill during Orthodox Easter.

The two leaders have long been connected. Kirill’s rise to the patriarchy in 2009 is not without Soviet-era mystique. Once known by birth name Vladimir Gundyayev, Kirill started his post-educational career with an appointment to represent the Russian Orthodox Church at the World Council of Churches in Geneva in 1971. He shot through the ranks, and by 1975, was a member of the organization’s central and executive committee before turning 30. He would continue to rise through the church through much of the mid-1970s and ’80s, culminating in his post as chair of the Moscow patriarch’s external relations department in 1989.

But reportedly tied to his professional success was the suspicion that Kirill had been an agent of the KGB — a shady relationship that has put his rapid success into question. The KGB post also coincides with the early career of Putin, who joined the agency in 1975 and reportedly spent time in New Zealand posing as an undercover shoe salesman, and later an undercover translator in East Germany. As both would reach the pinnacle of their fields, their connection and political alignment would only grow.

When members of the feminist punk band Pussy Riot were arrested and sentenced for a protest performance against the church and its ties to Putin inside a cathedral in 2012, Kirill advocated against leniency.

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Not long after, intelligence and security officers with the Federal Security Service, the successor agency to the KGB, were in attendance at a construction site for a new church near Moscow’s FSB building alongside Kirill. At the ceremony, head intelligence officer Viktor Ostroukhov was quoted by the Moscow Times as saying his armed officers stand united with the church and are concerned at attacks on the “Christian way of life.” As if to further symbolize the connection, the Main Cathedral of the Russian Armed Forces dedicated to Russia’s military victories was consecrated in 2020.

Then there is the “open secret” that the Kremlin operates out of the church to send agents abroad.

“Everybody knew of the department of the church full of agents and you cannot do that if you didn’t secure some approval from the very top: Kirill was a part of this system,” Russian investigative and national security journalist Andrei Soldatov told POLITICO, shortly before being placed on the Kremlin’s federal wanted list. “It was a mutually beneficial relationship.”

Years prior, Soldatov added, the FSB and the church’s relationship solidified when several Catholic priests were expelled from the country on suspicion of spying, leading activists to believe the Orthodox Church pushed the state to crack down on religious competition and dissent. Another Catholic priest was kicked out of Russia in mid-April, after his visa was revoked for unexplained reasons.

The Russian Orthodox Church has continued to grow since Kirill’s election to the patriarchy. Despite waning participation at church service, more than 150 Russian Orthodox dioceses have sprung up and nearly 10,000 more clerics have joined the patriarchate since 2009, according to a 2019 report from the church.

Kirill may have a large and observant flock, but he’s also been criticized by the public for displays of hidden wealth. In the 1990s, the Kremlin handed the Russian Orthodox Church a tobacco license to make a business off importing duty-free cigarettes. The operation — which reportedly netted upwards of $75 million — was run by the department of external church relations which was spearheaded by Kirill, leading some to believe it contributed to his personal piggy bank.

In 2012, Russian bloggers spotted Kirill wearing a $30,000 Breguet watch in an interview — a luxury that in theory was above his means. The church would try to obscure the public display of wealth by photoshopping Kirill’s sleeve over it but forgot to remove its reflection from the table. One 2020 investigation by Russian independent media outlet Proekt found nine properties in Russia worth millions were either owned by or linked to Kirill.

‘Putin’s altar boy’

Kirill’s statements and sermons largely avoided censure and international scorn before the war, but his fiercely patriotic stance and pro-Putin propagandizing have now pushed some religious leaders to condemn him.

Among those alarmed by Kirill’s latest actions is Pope Francis. After holding a virtual meeting with Kirill in May, the pope told Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera that Kirill “cannot transform himself into Putin’s altar boy” and that they are not clerics of state, but of God.

The Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, who acts as the spiritual head and de-facto representative of Christian Orthodoxy, in a late-May interview with Greek state TV ERT1, said that “the Church of Russia let us down.”

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“I don’t know how he can justify himself to his conscience. How he’ll justify it, how history will judge him,” Bartholomew said of Kirill. “He should react to the invasion of Ukraine and condemn the war as all the other Orthodox Primates did.”

The tensions pushed the Ukrainian Orthodox Church to declare itself an autonomous faction, with the Ukrainian parliament passing a resolution to sanction Kirill.

The Ukrainian embassy in Washington declined to comment on whether President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s government is pushing the United States to sanction Kirill.

Congress, the State Department and the White House have remained largely silent on the matter, puzzling some foreign affairs observers.

“I think it's just sheer embarrassment that they don't sanction him,” said Gary Clyde Hufbauer, a nonresident senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics. “I imagine the reason is that Treasury authorities in the U.S. don't want to get into an argument over religious qualifications and moral authority.”

The United States has sanctioned religious leaders in the past, but they didn’t necessarily land there because of their preaching.

One notable example is Iran’s Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. He is a high-ranking Islamic scholar, but he’s also Iran’s supreme leader, and has been sanctioned by the U.S. for supporting terrorism and engaging in an array of destablizing actions in the Middle East.

The late Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and other self-styled religious figures within the so-called Islamic State faced sanctions, but they were targeted by the U.S. for terrorism. In many of these cases, the sanctions are symbolic because the individuals don’t have assets in the United States nor do they tend to visit; still, the sanctions can have a chilling effect well beyond American borders as foreign banks and other institutions avoid doing business with the targeted individuals.

Analysts and former officials couldn’t think of many, if any, prominent religious figures who had been sanctioned for their faith-related work or words.

“The United States recognizes religious freedom as an inalienable right and is therefore committed to its preservation and advancement for all,” a State Department spokesperson said when asked for comment. “Imposing sanctions is a complicated process. The decision to sanction an entity or individuals must be seen as advancing goals and influencing outcomes effectively, but most importantly the sanctioned person must meet a certain criteria before the sanctions decision is made, as described in the relevant authority for that sanctions program.”

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In other words, it can come down to whether the individual in question poses a threat, can be linked to state corruption or the funding of terrorism.

“The others were sanctioned because they were supporting terrorism operations and financing directly for it,” said Brian O’Toole, a nonresident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council and former U.S. Treasury official who helped design U.S. sanctions packages. “If you can remove the ability to raise money then you need to do that because that helps the battlefield. It saves people's lives. Sanctioning Kirill is probably not going to save anybody's life.”

“If he was involved in some of the corruption that’s related to Putin, that might make him a more advantageous target from a policy perspective,” added O’Toole.

U.S. officials also consider how a sanctions move might lead the Kremlin chief to react. For instance, Putin’s long-rumored girlfriend Alina Kabaeva has made it onto international sanctions lists, including those of Canada, Britain and the EU. But the United States hasn’t gone after her, with some officials behind-the-scenes reportedly concerned that Kabaeva’s inclusion could hit too close to home for Putin, leading him to perhaps escalate the fight.

The Russian Orthodox Church in the U.S. has been relatively silent in the matter. Metropolitan Tikhon, Christan Orthodoxy’s highest-ranking clergy in the U.S. and Canada, sent a letter to Patriarch Kirill in March calling on him to “do what he can to end the war in Ukraine and the suffering and death of countless victims.”

But Kirill seems to have disregarded the advice.

“We do not want to fight with anyone, Russia has never attacked anyone,” Kirill told churchgoers in a May sermon. “It's surprising when a great and powerful country did not attack anyone. It has only been defending its borders.”

America’s sanctions hesitation may be indicative of the way Washington understands religion. But in Russia, Soldatov argues, the lines between church and state aren’t just blurred — they’re almost indistinguishable.

“You can make an argument that the Russian Orthodox Church is state business; an ideological institution that provides an ideological argument for those who are in support of the war,” Soldatov said.

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this report misspelled Victor Ostroukhov’s name.

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Was Kirill in the KGB? ›

Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill, a close supporter of Russian President Vladimir Putin, worked for the Russian intelligence service in Switzerland in the 1970s, according to two Swiss newspapers, citing declassified archives.

Where is patriarch kirill? ›

Patriarch Kirill of Moscow
Patriarch of Moscow and all Rus'
Patriarch Kirill in 2023
ChurchRussian Orthodox Church
11 more rows

What does Putin want? ›

First, he wants to subjugate Ukraine, tearing down its statehood. Secondly, he hopes, by strangling Ukraine, to force the West to accept his ultimatum — rebuilding in Europe a Yalta-esque order with spheres of influence and securing a Western pledge to not interfere in Russia's geopolitical backyard.

How long does Putin have to live? ›

The Constitution was amended in 2020 to reset the number of terms Putin has served, allowing him to circumvent term limits in the 2024 and 2030 elections, enabling him to legally stay in office until 2036.

Who are the 2 Russian spies in America? ›

Vicky Peláez, a Peruvian national and US citizen, and Mikhail Anatolyevich Vasenkov (Russian: Михаил Анатольевич Васенков, alias Juan Lazaro), a Russian citizen, were arrested at their home in Yonkers, New York. Both admitted being Russian agents.

Who was the most successful Russian spy? ›

Oleg Antonovich Gordievsky, CMG (Оле́г Анто́нович Гордие́вский; born 10 October 1938) is a former colonel of the KGB who became KGB resident-designate (rezident) and bureau chief in London, and was a double agent, providing information to the British Secret Intelligence Service (MI6) from 1974 to 1985.

What religion is the Orthodox Church in Russia? ›

Russian Orthodoxy (Russian: Русское православие) is the body of several churches within the larger communion of Eastern Orthodox Christianity, whose liturgy is or was traditionally conducted in Church Slavonic language. Most Churches of the Russian Orthodox tradition are part of the Eastern Orthodox Church.

How many LDS church members live in Russia? ›

Currently, Russia has eight missions and Ukraine has three. Russia has 19,946 members and 129 branches (small congregations), while Ukraine had 10,557 members and 63 branches.

Can Orthodox priests marry? ›

The Assyrian, Eastern Orthodox and Oriental Orthodox Churches, as well as many of the Eastern Catholic Churches, permit married men to be ordained. Traditionally however, they do not permit clergy to marry after ordination. From ancient times they have had both married and celibate clergy (see Monasticism).

Does Putin want to stop the war? ›

"Our goal is not to spin the flywheel of military conflict, but, on the contrary, to end this war," Putin said. "We will strive for an end to this, and the sooner the better, of course."

Why does Russia not want Ukraine to join NATO? ›

Currently, the organization has a total of 30 countries. In this way, Russia feels a threat from NATO's expansion to the east and, above all, fears that Ukraine, a country in which it can exert influence, will end up joining NATO, something that has not yet happened.

Why is Ukraine so important to Russia? ›

Russia has deep cultural, economic, and political bonds with Ukraine, and in many ways Ukraine is central to Russia's identity and vision for itself in the world. Family ties. Russia and Ukraine have strong familial bonds that go back centuries.

Does Russia have a low life expectancy? ›

Chart and table of Russia life expectancy from 1950 to 2023. United Nations projections are also included through the year 2100. The current life expectancy for Russia in 2023 is 72.98 years, a 0.19% increase from 2022.

How long does a human live in Russia? ›

The average Russian life expectancy of 71.6 years at birth is nearly 5 years shorter than the overall average figure for the European Union or the United States.

Does Vladimir have a wife? ›

Later life and marriage

In her early adult years, Lyudmila was a flight attendant for the Kaliningrad branch of Aeroflot. She met Vladimir Putin at a Arkady Raikin concert in Leningrad, and they married on 28 July 1983.

Did Russia send spies to the US? ›

Notable cases of Cold War Soviet espionage included Kim Philby, a Soviet double agent and British intelligence liaison to American intelligence, who was revealed to be a member of the "Cambridge Five" spy ring in 1963.

Who are the famous Russian illegals? ›

Other famous Soviet and Russian "illegals" include Richard Sorge, Walter Krivitsky, Vasily Zarubin, Alexander Ulanovsky, and Anna Chapman, who was also known as a sleeper agent.

How many spies are in the US right now? ›

Spies are living among us. In the United States alone, one expert estimates that there are about 100,000 foreign agents working for at least 60 to 80 nations – all spying on America.

Who was the greatest female spy? ›

Virginia Hall was the only female civilian in WWII to receive the coveted Distinguished Service Cross. After the war, Hall became one of the CIA's first female operations officers.

Who is the youngest CIA agent ever? ›

Aldrich Ames
Ames in 1994
BornAldrich Hazen Ames May 26, 1941 River Falls, Wisconsin, U.S.
EducationUniversity of Chicago George Washington University (BA)
Criminal charge18 U.S.C. § 794(c) (Espionage Act)
10 more rows

Who was the biggest FBI traitor? ›

On January 12, 1976, Robert Philip Hanssen swore an oath to enforce the law and protect the nation as a newly minted FBI special agent. Instead, he ultimately became the most damaging spy in Bureau history.

What Bible do Russians use? ›

The Russian Synodal Bible (Russian: Синодальный перевод, The Synodal Translation) is a Russian non-Church Slavonic translation of the Bible commonly used by the Russian Orthodox Church, Catholic, as well as Russian Baptists and other Protestant communities in Russia.

Do Russian Orthodox believe in Jesus as God? ›

It is fundamental for Orthodox Christians that they accept Christ as both God and Man, both natures complete. This is viewed as the only way of escaping the hell of separation from God. The incarnation unites humanity to divinity. Orthodox Christians believe that because of that Incarnation, everything is different.

Do Russian Orthodox believe in Jesus? ›

The Orthodox Churches share with the other Christian Churches the belief that God revealed himself in Jesus Christ, and a belief in the incarnation of Christ, his crucifixion and resurrection.

Where do the most Mormons live in us? ›

The center of Mormon cultural influence is in Utah, and North America has more Mormons than any other continent, although about half of Mormons live outside the United States. As of December 31, 2021, the LDS Church reported a membership of 16,805,400.

What percent of the US is LDS? ›

Mormons make up 1.7% of the American adult population, a proportion that is comparable in size to the U.S. Jewish population.

Which is the largest LDS Church of USA? ›

The Salt Lake Temple is a temple of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on Temple Square in Salt Lake City, Utah, United States. At 253,015 square feet (23,505.9 m2), it is the largest Latter-day Saint temple by floor area.

Can Orthodox eat pork? ›

The Ethiopian Orthodox Church and the Eritrean Orthodox Church do not permit pork consumption. Hebrew Roots Movement adherents also do not consume pork.

Can a divorced man become an Orthodox priest? ›

Taken as written, this question has a very simple answer: no. A divorced man cannot become a priest because civil divorce has no canonical bearing on the marital status of a Catholic man.

What is the difference between a priest and a pastor? ›

In the United States, the term pastor is used by Catholics for what in other English-speaking countries is called a parish priest. The Latin term used in the Code of Canon Law is parochus. The parish priest is the proper clergyman in charge of the congregation of the parish entrusted to him.

Who forced Russia to leave the war? ›

Lenin believed that Russia must end its participation in the war so that the nation could focus on building a communist state based on the ideas of Karl Marx, a German philosopher who lived in the mid-1800s.

Why is Russia so big? ›

The Mercator projection makes Russia much larger on geographical maps, compared to the territories closer to the equator. No other nation found any particular reason to grab sub-Arctic Russia, Siberia and the Far East.

Why does Russia pull out of the war? ›

Russia was part of Triple Entente along with Britain and France, waging war against central powers, but in 1917, Russia withdrew from the great war( aka World War 1), since there was an socialist revolution was taking place in the country and it was going under a turmoil with internal revolution, that they could not ...

When did Russia leave NATO? ›

In March 2015, Russia, citing NATO's de facto breach of the 1990 Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe, said that the suspension of its participation in it, announced in 2007, was now "complete" through halting its participation in the consulting group on the Treaty.

What would happen if Ukraine joined NATO? ›

If Ukraine were to join NATO, the collective defence principle would mean the whole of the alliance was at war with Russia. The West has been toeing a precarious line when it comes to direct conflict with Moscow, and trying its best to avoid becoming an active participant in the current Ukraine war.

Why isn t Ukraine invited to NATO? ›

To meet one of the three main criteria for entry into NATO, a European nation must demonstrate a commitment to democracy, individual liberty and support for the rule of law. While Ukrainian leaders say they have met that threshold, some American and European officials argue otherwise.

Does Putin want to restore the Soviet Union? ›

Russian authorities struggled to find a uniting factor for its population of different ethnic, cultural, and religious backgrounds, as the disintegration of the Soviet Union meant that they could no longer identify with each other. Vladimir Putin aimed to reform Russia into a strong, sovereign nation.

Why is Ukraine strategically important to us? ›

Finally, Ukraine is rich in resources, including agricultural produce, critical raw materials, energy sources, and human capital. Some of the aforementioned resources are indispensable to the rest of the world and all of which would become more accessible again with a Ukrainian victory.

How much land has Russia taken from Ukraine? ›

Before 2022, Russia occupied 42,000 km2 (16,000 sq mi) of Ukrainian territory (Crimea, and parts of Donetsk and Luhansk), and occupied an additional 119,000 km2 (46,000 sq mi) after its full-scale invasion by March 2022, a total of 161,000 km2 (62,000 sq mi) or almost 27% of Ukraine's territory.

Which US state has the most Russian population? ›

"Little Russia" in Brighton Beach, Brooklyn. The New York metropolitan area is home to the largest Russian American population.

What is Russia's average income? ›

Russia Annual Household Income per Capita reached 7,932.623 USD in Dec 2022, compared with the previous value of 6,561.323 USD in Dec 2021. Russia Annual Household Income per Capita data is updated yearly, available from Dec 1992 to Dec 2022, with an averaged value of 5,523.525 USD.

What country has the best life expectancy? ›

Japan. The highest life expectancy in the world is found in Japan, where the average lifespan is 84 years. It is thought that the Japanese diet, intense physical exercise, and easy access to high-quality healthcare are important causes.

Why is alcoholism so high in Russia? ›

Alcoholism has been a problem throughout the country's history because drinking is a pervasive, socially acceptable behaviour in Russian society and alcohol has also been a major source of government revenue for centuries. It has repeatedly been targeted as a major national problem, with mixed results.

What age do people retire in Russia? ›

Retirement age by country and region
Saudi Arabia60
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How old is the average Russian man? ›

As of January 1, 2022, the mean age of the Russian population amounted to 40.5 years old, up from 40.4 years recorded in the previous year.

What religion is Vladimir? ›

Vladimir the Great
FatherSviatoslav I of Kiev
ReligionChalcedonian Christianity (from 988) prev. Slavic pagan
17 more rows

What ethnicity is Vladimir? ›

Vladimir (Russian: Влади́мир, pre-1918 orthography: Владиміръ) is a masculine given name of Slavic origin, widespread throughout all Slavic nations in different forms and spellings. The earliest record of a person with the name is knyaz Vladimir of Bulgaria.

Is Putin popular in Russia? ›

According to public opinion surveys conducted by NGO Levada Center, Putin's approval rating was just 60% in July 2020. Putin's popularity rose from 31% in August 1999 to 80% in November 1999, never dropping below 65% during his first presidency.

Who was the CIA spy caught in Russia? ›

He had spied for the Russians for nearly a decade. Aldrich Ames and his wife both pled guilty on April 28, 1994. Aldrich Ames was sentenced to incarceration for life without the possibility of parole. Rosario Ames was sentenced on October 20, 1994 to 63 months in prison.

Who is the famous Russian female spy? ›

Chapman was born Anna Vasilyevna Kushchenko (Russian: А́нна Васи́льевна Кущенко) in Kharkiv on 23 February 1982.

Who were the most famous spies in Russia? ›

  • Cambridge Four.
  • Donald Maclean.
  • Klaus Fuchs and the Soviet Atom Bomb.
  • KGB Agents in Germany.
  • Anatoli Sudoplatov And His Claims.
  • Rosenburgs.
  • KGB and Lee Harvey Oswald.
  • Melita Norwood.

Who is the chief of spy in Russia? ›

Sergey Naryshkin
Political partyUnited Russia
SpouseTatiana Yakubchik
WebsiteSergey Naryshkin
25 more rows

Who was the Russian spy that saved the world? ›

Russian Lt. Col. Oleg Penkovsky, portrayed by actor Merab Ninidze in the Benjamin Cumberbatch thriller The Courier (2020), is hailed as 'the spy who saved the world', the West's most valuable Cold War double agent, and the man who risked his life to stop a nuclear war between superpowers.

Did Russia train female spies? ›

According to former CIA officer Jason Matthews, the Soviet Union had a sexpionage school called "State School 4" in Kazan, Tatarstan, southeast of Moscow, on the banks of the Volga river. The school trained female agents to be "swallows".

Who was the famous female sniper in Russia? ›

Lyudmila Mikhailovna Pavlichenko (Russian: Людмила Михайловна Павличенко; Ukrainian: Людмила Михайлівна Павличенко, romanized: Lyudmyla Mykhailivna Pavlychenko, née Belova; 12 July [O.S. 30 May] 1916 – 10 October 1974) was a Soviet sniper in the Red Army during World War II. She is credited with killing 309 soldiers.

Who is known as the greatest spy? ›

Aldrich Ames
CountryUnited States
AllegianceSoviet Union Russia
Service years1962–1994
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Who was one of the most memorable spies? ›

For similar lists visit 24/7 Wall St. .
  • The most famous spies in history. ...
  • Sir Francis Walsingham (1532-1590) ...
  • Benedict Arnold (1741-1801) ...
  • Nathan Hale (1755-1776) ...
  • Rose O'Neal Greenhow (1817-1864) ...
  • Elizabeth Van Lew (1818-1900) ...
  • Mata Hari (1876-1917) ...
  • Carl Lody (1877-1914)
Aug 18, 2021

How many KGB spies are there? ›

Researchers with access to Communist Party archives put the number of KGB personnel at more than 480,000, including 200,000 soldiers in the Border Guards. Estimates of the number of informers in the Soviet Union are incomplete but usually range in the millions.

What is the spy system of Russia? ›

Federal Security Service (FSB), an agency responsible for counter-intelligence and other aspects of state security as well as intelligence-gathering in some countries, primarily those of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS); reports directly to the President of Russia.

What is the Russian spy unit? ›

GRU (Russian Federation)
Agency overview
Preceding agencyMain Intelligence Directorate (Soviet Union)
JurisdictionRussian Federation
HeadquartersGrizodubovoy Street 3, Moscow
10 more rows

Does Russia have a spy agency? ›

The Foreign Intelligence Service is part of the national-security system and is called upon to protect individuals, society and the state from foreign threats.


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