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14 Dec, 2018 08:35

‘Thanks for independence’: Ukraine’s schismatic Patriarch bestows highest award on ex-CIA ops chief

‘Thanks for independence’: Ukraine’s schismatic Patriarch bestows highest award on ex-CIA ops chief

The head of the schismatic Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Kiev Patriarchate expressed his gratitude to the ex-CIA associate director, acknowledging his support for the church’s break with Moscow.

Patriarch Filaret presented former CIA Associate Director Jack Devine with the Order of St. Andrew, the church’s highest decoration, local media reported on Thursday. The cleric thanked Devine for the US’ support for Ukraine’s independence and “the creation of the unified autocephalous Ukrainian Orthodox Church.”

Since the split from the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Moscow Patriarchate in the early 1990s, Filaret has pursued autocephaly (religious autonomy) for his church. Religious officials in Moscow do not recognize his authority and view his church as schismatic.

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It was around that time that Jack Devine took charge of the CIA’s operations outside the US, becoming the agency’s associate director. Upon his retirement in 1999, Devine co-founded corporate intelligence firm The Arkin Group. He is also a member of the influential Council on Foreign Relations.

Receiving the award this week, Devine voiced his “sincere admiration” for the “support” Ukrainians have shown for Filaret’s push for autonomy from Moscow, local media reported. The former spymaster also praised his “outstanding role” in establishing an independent church in Ukraine.

It is not the first time the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Kiev Patriarchate has bestowed a prestigious award on high-profile US nationals. In 2015, Filaret awarded Senator John McCain with the Order of St. Vladimir First Class for his “support for Ukraine during the Russian occupation of Crimea and Donbas.”

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