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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

New Patriarch Vote Set for Late January

The Russian Orthodox Church will elect a new patriarch on Jan. 28 and 29 at a meeting after the death last week of Patriarch Alexy II, acting Patriarch Kirill said Wednesday.

Kirill told reporters after a meeting of the church's ruling body, the Holy Synod, that the new patriarch would be enthroned on Feb. 1.

Kirill, who was head of the church's external relations department under Alexy, is one of two candidates that church insiders and experts see as frontrunners to succeed Alexy. The other is Metropolitan Kliment of Kaluga and Borovsk, believed to be the Kremlin's preferred successor.

Should Kliment prevail, the church is likely to tightly follow the Kremlin line, a trend that became increasingly strong during Vladimir Putin's eight years as president, church researchers say.

Kirill, meanwhile, is one of the church's most prominent clergymen and is known for his often-controversial public statements.

(Reuters, MT)