Russian Orthodox Patriarch Alexy II dies

The head of the Russian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Alexy II (born Alexey Ridiger), has died at the age of 80. His funeral is likely to be held on 7 December 2008. Alexy II was suffering from heart disease. He was named Patriarch in June 1990, just before the collapse of the Soviet Union. Alexy II had built close ties to the Kremlin under Vladimir Putin’s leadership. He was accused of making the church a force for Russian nationalism. Under Alexy II, religion gained influence in schools, prisons, hospitals, and the armed services.

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