News Brief

Russian and Georgian Orthodox Churches Mull Restoration of Monarchy

Two branches of the Orthodox Church have ignited debate in Georgia and Russia about the possibility of restoring each country’s royal family. In the middle of a recent sermon, the head of Georgia’s Orthodox Church said that a constitutional monarchy would bring “peacefulness” to Georgia, an idea that was soon after echoed by a high-ranking church official in Moscow who said that the Russian Orthodox Church would play an “active role” in any discussion about restoring Russia’s royal family.

It’s not the first time that politicians in both countries have expressed nostaligia for the return of each country’s monarchy. This spring the regional Russian head of Crimea Sergey Aksenov said on television that “Russia needs a monarchy.” In 2015, a parliament deputy from Russia’s leading party even wrote a public letter inviting two Romanov heirs to return to Russia which they accepted, though no other action was taken.

In Georgia, parliament chair Irakli Kobakhidze said he plans to meet with Patriarch Ilia II, the spiritual leader of Georgia’s Orthodox Church, to discuss the proposal.

In both countries, the government is closely allied to Orthodox hardliners and the church plays an active role in politics. Both branches of Orthodoxy as well as family members from the Georgian and Russian royal houses are closely intertwined. Maria Vladimirovna, a 63-year-old resident of Spain who calls herself the head of the Romanov house, is a close relative of David Bagration-Mukhransky, who claims to be the head of the Georgian royal family. Russian Orthodox priests often visit Georgia and organize annual religious “boot camps” with Georgian priests.

However, Vladimir Putin’s press secretary Dmitry Peskov said that the Russian president views discussion of restoration “coldly” and “without optimism.”