March 9, 2011
The Turkish police foiled an assassination attempt against Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew (Archontonis), arresting two young suspects, both of whom are under 21-years-old. They planned to kill the patriarch in the Phanar district of Istanbul, the site of the patriarchal residence, Komsomolskaya Pravda wrote on Wednesday. Fr Igor Yakimchuk, the head of the secretariat of the MP Department for External Church Relations, explained that Turkish extremists belonging to an organisation called the “Grey Wolves” have burnt effigies of the patriarch, and they threw rocks over the fence of his residence, sometimes, hitting people. He believed that this assassination attempt by nationalist and Islamist extremists was an attempt to destabilise the situation on the eve of the upcoming election campaign, which begins next month. In turn, Aleksandr Sotnichenko, Professor of International Relations at the University of St Petersburg, also connected what happened to nationalist factions. “The reason is quite clear, it’s an effort on the part of the domestic political opposition in Turkey to stir up the nationalist hatred against Greeks”, he said. He reminded us that the nationalists were opposed to Bartholomew’s serving a liturgy last year in an ancient Greek monastery near Trabzon, as well as a liturgy served in an Armenian church.