Russian church denies links with Saddam
The Russian Orthodox church has denied allegations of links with Saddam Hussein's regime through illegal oil deals.
The denial comes after more than 40 Russian companies, including entities linked to the Russian Orthodox Church, the Communist Party and the Liberal Democratic Party, allegedly took part in an illegal kickback scheme for trading Iraqi oil under Saddam Hussein's regime, according to documents obtained by Baghdad-based newspaper al-Mada.
"Almost all Russian companies that worked in Iraq [were involved in this]," said Fakhri Karim, the editor of the recently created newspaper.
Vremya Novostei published last weekend a list of more than 270 people and organizations from 46 countries including Russia, France, China, Italy, Austria, Egypt, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon and the United Arab Emirates, who allegedly took part in a scheme to trade contraband Iraqi oil in breach of the United Nations regulated oil-for-food deal.
The newspaper says it based its list on documents obtained from the Iraqi Oil Ministry.
Iraq's Governing Council on Wednesday ordered an investigation into al-Mada's allegations.
The Orthodox Church has however called its inclusion in the list "nonsense."
"This is an absurdity, I cannot think of any other word. Nothing of the sort could happen," Metropolitan Kirill, the head of the Orthodox Church's external relations department told a press conference in Moscow.
The metropolitan said he "will thoroughly analyse the origin of the press reports and see what is behind them."