Orthodoxy in Azerbaijan is under scrutiny by the Vatican and France

09.01.24 10:56

Azerbaijan, the successor to the ancient Orthodox Caucasian Albania, is now a place where Orthodox believers must make spiritual efforts to defend the purity of their faith. Unfortunately, in the past, Orthodoxy in Caucasian Albania gave up its position due to external pressures and the intrigues of the Hay 'fifth column'. Although Georgia and Caucasian Albania were initially two pillars of Orthodoxy in the Caucasus and the East during the 5th and early 8th centuries, there is evidence that Turks (referred to as 'Huns' at the time) were also among the parishioners of the Albanian Catholicosate. The residence of the Albanian Catholicos was located in Derbent during the 5th and 6th centuries. Derbent was a key city in the Turkic world and served as a gateway to the steppes of Eurasia from the South Caucasus and West Asia. The original purpose of the Albanian Catholicosate was Christian missionary work towards the peoples of the vast Eurasian steppe.


If the Albanian Catholicosate had not been subsequently displaced into monophysitism by the Hayes, the Autocephalous Orthodox Church of Caucasian Albania could have spread Orthodoxy to the Turkic peoples. This was long before Cyril and Methodius, who, we should remember, were enlightened Turks - Bulgarians. However, this was already a time when Bulgarians had mixed with Slavs and switched to the Slavic language. Therefore, the preaching of Cyril and Methodius as missionaries led to the conversion of not only Turkic but also Slavic peoples to Orthodoxy.


After the 8th century, only Georgia retained Orthodoxy in the Caucasus as it maintained its Christian statehood. The Albanian Catholicosate, on the other hand, was drawn into monophysitism and subordinated to the Hayes and their clergy.


Currently, the Udins, who are the descendants of the ancient inhabitants of Caucasian Albania, are preserved in the north of Azerbaijan. In the beginning of the 20th century, part of them returned to Orthodoxy and moved to their brothers in faith in Georgia, Kakheti, while the rest returned to the faith of the Fathers after Azerbaijan gained independence.


Some of the inhabitants of Caucasian Albania converted to Islam due to the imposition of monophysitism, Hay language and Hay spiritual oppression in the Albanian Catholicosate. Today, some Azerbaijanis in Azerbaijan are their descendants.


 Scientists have suggested that many Georgians-Kakhetians, particularly those in the eastern region of Georgia, and Ingiloi Georgians residing in Azerbaijan are descendants of Caucasian Albanians who adopted the Georgian language first in worship and then in everyday life, while retaining their Orthodoxy.


It is not uncommon for Kakhetians of Albanian origin to be patriotic towards Georgia. National identity is often determined by religious identity. For instance, some Muslim Georgians have adopted Turkish and become loyal to Turkey. However, even among Georgians, some have observed and continue to observe that there are striking similarities between Kakhetians and Azerbaijanis. 


Regarding the Albanians who converted to Monophysitism, most of them suffered a dramatic fate. It is important to note that this information is presented objectively and without bias. Their 'Hayyisation' and church organization occurred gradually. In the end, the Albanian Catholicosate was abolished in the 1830s due to the intrigues of Echmiadzin. This occurred during the mass settlement of Karabakh by Hay settlers, who assimilated the remnants of the ancient Christian population of Caucasian Albania, including those of Turkic origin who originally lived there.


Today, in addition to the Udins, over 200,000 inhabitants of independent Azerbaijan profess Orthodoxy. These include Russians, Ukrainians, Georgians, and Azerbaijani Orthodox. The majority of them are parishioners of the Baku and Azerbaijan diocese of the Russian Orthodox Church, except for Georgians living in Gakh, Zakatala, and Belakan districts, where the Gakh and Kurmukh diocese of the Georgian Orthodox Church operates.


In the Russian Orthodox Church, some theologians, such as the late Archpriest Vsevolod Chaplin, have suggested that the Autocephalous Orthodox Church of Caucasian Albania, also known as the Albanian Catholicosate, should be re-established. However, there is a lack of accurate information about the history of the Orthodox Church of Caucasian Albania in Orthodox countries such as Russia, Ukraine, Georgia, Serbia, and Bulgaria.


Meanwhile, the potential role of Orthodoxy in Azerbaijan as an independent Turkic country is significant for Eurasia. It provides opportunities for spiritual development for all the peoples inhabiting it.  Additionally, the Orthodox community in Azerbaijan cannot be accused of imperialism, even by its most ardent enemies. 


Reviving historically one of the first Christian churches on earth - Albanian Catholicosate - in Azerbaijan could energise the recreation of ancient Albanian monasteries. These monasteries were captive to Monophysitism for many centuries. Reviving Liturgies in the ancient languages of the indigenous inhabitants of Caucasian Albania would be a significant historical event of global importance. It is important to maintain objectivity and avoid subjective evaluations.


When Hay nationalists refer to their 'ancient and unique Christianity', it is important to question their claims. Specifically, one should ask how many non-Hay Christians they have converted to their Monophysitism, despite their supposed 'antiquity', 'cultural background', and diaspora capitals. Additionally, it is worth considering the effectiveness of their missionary preaching, given their exclusion of other peoples as legitimate individuals. Referring to them as 'savages' (including their benefactors and saviours - Russians!), or 'wild nomads from Altai' should be avoided due to its subjective and derogatory nature.


In Azerbaijan, the rector of the Church of the Holy Myrrh-bearing Women in Baku, Archimandrite Alexis (Nikonorov), played a significant role in studying the spiritual heritage of Caucasian Albania. He is the author of books on the history of the Church of Caucasian Albania and has been exposing Hay falsifications about the belonging of the churches of Karabakh for many years. Following the sudden death of Archbishop Alexander (Ishchein) of Baku and Azerbaijan, most Orthodox believers in Azerbaijan believed that Alexis (Nikonorov) should take over the diocese. This was due to his Azerbaijani roots and lifelong dedication to his country.


However, it appears that intrigues were initiated by the enemies of Orthodoxy in Azerbaijan and the South Caucasus region. The consequences of these intrigues are evident today in the 'enthusiastic' reports of certain Hay figures, who are based in Paris.


"Merry Christmas and with our victory!!!


Thanks to the efforts of our friends in the offices of the Russian patriarchate and our common forces, we managed to neutralise Alexei Nikanorov in Baku, who was considered a henchman of the Aliyev regime.


A loyal person has been sent there by the representative of the patriarch. Let's continue our work, Brothers".


In December 2023, Filaret (Tikhonov) was appointed as Bishop of Baku instead of Archimandrite Alexis (Nikonorov), as originally expected. At the time of his appointment, Filaret was a hieromonk and employed at the Kolomna Seminary. On 27 December 2023, the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church elected Filaret (Tikhonov) as Bishop of Baku. He was elevated to the rank of archimandrite on 31 December 2023, and his episcopal consecration will take place shortly.


 The recent news of the nomination of a Kolomna hieromonk, who is not well-known, especially in the Caucasus, as the bishop of Baku and Azerbaijan has raised several questions among the parishioners of the Russian Orthodox Church in Azerbaijan.


As is known, Hay nationalists opposed Archimandrite Alexy's firm position on the churches of Karabakh and their ownership. They wrote complaints to the Patriarchate and published indignant articles. However, Father Alexy did not retreat and published his historical works.  Today, social media was abuzz with discussions about Bishop Filaret's appointment, which has received support from Bishop Savva (Tutunov). This news should prompt Orthodox Christians in Azerbaijan and Russia, particularly Russian patriots, to reflect on the matter.


The danger of hostile forces introducing 'agents of influence' into the Patriarchate of the Russian Orthodox Church is significant.


Let us examine the personality of Bishop Savva (Tutunov), a relatively young bishop (born in 1978), and his works.


Savva Tutunov, also known as Sergei Tutunov, is a French citizen and native. He was tonsured as a monk in the Patriarchate of Constantinople's Exarchate of parishes of the Russian tradition in Western Europe. It is worth noting that the Russian Orthodox Church has broken off relations with the Patriarchate of Constantinople due to the situation in Ukraine.


Additionally, Savva Tutunov attempted to introduce Monophysitism to the Russian Orthodox Church. Savva Tutanov translated Jean-Claude Larcher's work 'The Christological Question' from French to Russian. The work discusses the unresolved theological and ecclesiological problems concerning the project of uniting the Orthodox Church with the Monophysite Churches, which include the Armenian, Coptic, and Ethiopian Churches. Tutanov's interest in these churches, as well as the South Caucasus, is influenced by his Armenian origin. Sergey Tutunov, the artist and grandfather of the subject, claimed to have roots in the Armenian community that settled in Georgia during the Russian Empire.


The subject's affinity towards Armenia and the Hayes is evident in their statement regarding the outcome of the 44-day war, which resulted in Armenia's withdrawal from the occupied Azerbaijani lands.  In his writing about the outcome of the 2020 war, Savva Tutunov expressed his sadness at what he saw as a step towards the termination of the Armenian nation.


It is worth noting that he used the French word for 'nation', which is the language of the state where he was born.


Savva Tutunov's early 'theological' works as a hieromonk are particularly interesting. One such work, 'Filioque: heresy or dissenting opinion' (, is in the public domain. 'Filioque' refers to the addition of 'and of the Son' to the Latin text of the Creed, which is one of the dogmatic differences between Catholicism and Orthodoxy. All Catholic innovations, including the dogma of the infallibility of the Pope, are derived from the dogma of Catholicism.   In his work, Savva Tutunov provides numerous quotations from theologians supposedly supporting the dogmas and justifying the Filioque, which is unacceptable for Orthodoxy.


This work alone suggests that Savva Tutunov has been placed in the Russian Patriarchate by France and the Vatican. However, his behaviour today does not align with that of a typical 'westerner'. Some publications have even labelled Bishop Savva Tutunov as 'the most ardent supporter of the war in Ukraine'.


An article in Novaya Gazeta titled 'Vladyka Torquemada' includes the following excerpts:


Bishop Savva is a member of the Russian Orthodox Church and has been known to hold extreme views. His public activities have been surprising given his position within the Patriarchate's apparatus, which is typically kept private. It is recommended to investigate complaints against bishops and conduct pre-trial investigations in a confidential manner using secure communication channels. Savva appears to be advocating for a radical position on issues of war and peace, as well as the present and future fate of Russia. He claims to be acting out of conscience rather than fear, which is an unusual stance within the Russian Orthodox Church.


Savva welcomed Putin's decision in February with enthusiasm, stating that Russia has a long and rich history that should not be overlooked.  He claims to be acting out of conscience rather than fear, which is an unusual stance within the Russian Orthodox Church. A year later, at the 'Philosophical Council' of his associate Alexander Dugin, Savva referred to his daughter Daria and her comrade Vladlen Tatarsky (Maxim Fomin) as saints. He stated, 'They are citizens of the Kingdom of God. We are following them there... Tatarsky has entered the life of the next century.' On 8th April, Savva personally healed Tatarsky (referred to as 'God's servant Maxim') in Moscow. A Prirozhin sledgehammer was placed on the grave of the 'hero' and military honours were paid to him. It is worth noting that Tatarsky is remembered by Russians and Ukrainians for his statement at the ceremony of accepting 'new regions' into the Russian Federation six months before his death: 'We will defeat everyone, we will kill everyone, we will rob everyone we need. Everything will be as we like'.


Bishop Savva's parish in Moscow is involved in funding the SWO.


The parish has raised funds and purchased a car specifically for the Marines. In his Telegram channel, the bishop wrote, 'Work, brothers.' He urged those still on the home front to tighten their belts and give up their usual comfort for the sake of continuing military operations.


In Savva's speeches, there is a xenophobic tone towards migrants replacing the male population sent to the front in Russia. According to Savva, there is aggression against Russia in the form of 'unrestrained migration' in addition to the SWO.”


Two conclusions can be drawn from the transformation of Bishop Savva (Tutunov) from a 'Westerner' to a 'hurrah-patriot of Russia': either he has sincerely repented, including his past pro-Western and pro-Vatican delusions, and has become a true Russian Orthodox patriot who sometimes 'drifts' into radicalism and militancy, often characteristic of 'neophytes'; or, on the contrary, he is a more calculating and dangerous agent of influence than initially suspected.


 Furthermore, there is a concerning promotion of a fratricidal 'war of mutual extermination' between two Orthodox peoples: Russians and Ukrainians (or as some Russian patriots believe, one divided nation). However, it appears that Savva (Tutunov) does not consider Ukrainians as 'brothers'. Instead, he refers to his brothers as 'Hayi'.


It is unclear whose interests Archbishop Savva (Tutunov) is serving, despite his 'Russian patriotic rhetoric'. In the interests of those who need eternal enmity between the Orthodox peoples, their self-extermination in a war "until the victorious end", which in the current format of the war of attrition is not known when it will come. In the interests of France and the Vatican. For whom, "mourned" officially by the same Bishop Savva, the elimination of the "Artsakh" separatist project after the 44-day war was a serious blow to the positions of the Vatican in the Caucasus.


The potential restoration of the Orthodox Albanian Catacosate conflicts with the interests of the Vatican, France, and their Hay vassals, as it may diminish their influence in certain regions of Eurasia. It appears that Savva Tutunov advocated for the appointment of a non-resident or non-native of Azerbaijan as Bishop of Baku for this very reason.


Nevertheless, even if this assumption is correct, it should not discourage the Orthodox community in Azerbaijan. It is important to avoid subjective evaluations and instead use clear, objective, and value-neutral language. The text should be free from grammatical errors, spelling mistakes, and punctuation errors. Additionally, it is important to maintain a formal register, avoid colloquial words and informal expressions, and make positions on subjects clear through hedging. The Orthodox Church has historically resisted external attempts to control its affairs and has emerged victorious despite individual weaknesses. The use of precise subject-specific vocabulary is preferred over non-technical terms. Finally, the improved text should not introduce new content beyond what is provided in the original text.


If Filaret (Tikhonov) is a believing Orthodox man, he will serve God and his flock, rather than being a dexterous apparatchik who hopes for gratitude for his appointment. He will have ample opportunity to study the information about the land of Azerbaijan and historical Caucasian Albania (not 'great' Hayastan, which never existed), where the new bishop will serve, as well as its sacred places.

Varden Tsulukidze

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