Head of Russian Orthodox Church in Hungary obtained Hungarian citizenship in a matter of months, government won't disclose grounds

July 08. 2024. – 02:32 PM


Head of Russian Orthodox Church in Hungary obtained Hungarian citizenship in a matter of months, government won't disclose grounds
Hungarian PM Viktor Orbán meeting with Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk at the Carmelite Monastery on 6 September 2019 – Photo: Prime Minister's Press Office / MTI


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The Hungarian government is refusing to reveal on what grounds the Metropolitan of the Russian Orthodox Church in Budapest, accused of sexual harassment, Hilarion Alfeyev, was granted Hungarian citizenship just months after arriving in Hungary, citing national interest.

The Press Office of the Prime Minister sent us the following response: “For the past three and a half decades, the Hungarian state has kept data on Hungarian citizenship secret, primarily for reasons of national interest and only secondarily with regard to the protection of personal data. Maintaining this is a fundamental national interest, as dual citizenship is not recognised and is sometimes even sanctioned by numerous states, so the disclosure of any citizenship data may result in legal harm to Hungarian citizens.”

They added that, for this reason, they are only able to provide general information on the cases in which Hungarian citizenship can be acquired under Act LV of 1993 on Hungarian Citizenship. Hvg.hu received the same answer, and they note in their article that the Russian constitution actually allows for dual citizenship. Interestingly enough, Hilarion has maintained a good relationship with the Hungarian government. He has met with Deputy Prime Minister Zsolt Semjén several times, and on one occasion even held talks with Prime Minister Viktor Orbán.

It was the Russian paper Novaya Gazeta that recently reported that the head of the Russian Orthodox diocese in Hungary has been accused of sexual harassment by a young man named Suzuki George, who worked for him as an acolyte for years. Hilarion was considered the right-hand man of Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and the number two leader of the Russian Orthodox Church for years. In 2022, however, he was relieved of several of his posts and sent to Hungary in June of the same year without any official explanation. His accuser, the then 18-year-old Suzuki, moved to live with Hilarion shortly afterwards, in the autumn of 2022. He escaped from Hilarion in January 2024, taking an expensive watch and 30,000 euros with him, and the Hungarian police actually opened a case against him and even issued a warrant related to this.

Novaya Gazeta also revealed that Hilarion has Hungarian citizenship and holds a Hungarian passport. According to the photo, Hilarion's passport was issued in September 2022, just three months after he arrived in the country.

According to Suzuki, the religious leader lived a life of luxury in Hungary. He bought a property of more than 2,000 square metres on the outskirts of Budapest for €2.1 million. The house had 14 rooms, a separate wine cellar and a gym. 444 managed to identify it as the 18th-century Vácduka Castle, which had previously been on the market for 1.67 billion forints (around €4 million).

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