Patriarch Kirill, the head of the Russian Orthodox Church was yesterday presented with the gift of a military jet fighter after touring a Russian arms factory in the East of the country.
The jet, a single-seat Sukhoi SU-35, boasts a maximum speed of 2390 km/h, is capable of carrying an array of missiles and rockets and comes equipped with an on-board cannon with a capacity of 150 rounds.
The unusual gift, which was presented to the religious leader by owners of the factory, is estimated to have a value of between 40 and 60 million USD and is the same as models currently used by the Russian Air Force.
The Patriarch, who has been a key figure in Russia’s largely homophobic culture, addressed factory workers on the important of their work in the protection of Russia.
The move to accept the military-grade aircraft has been seen as controversial by some, and an attempt to further emphasise the military strength of Russia by others. The Russian Orthodox Church is a sect of Christianity and has always traditionally viewed itself as peaceful, leading many to question why their figurehead needs to own a highly-expensive piece of war machinery.
This is not the first time the Patriarch’s actions have come under scrutiny from Russians. A rising non-religious community in Russia have previously protested the Church’s views, which many see as outdated. The Patriarch famously claimed in 2013 that feminism in Russia was a ‘very dangerous’ idea.