Archbishop Zosima: "Kirsan Ilyumzhinov is the first regional leader who began talking about the revival of faith"

I remember how seventeen years ago Kirsan Ilyumzhinov and I dreamed of building an Orthodox cathedral in Elista.

In those days, the church life was almost non-existent in our steppe capital; Kalmykia was only a part of the Stavropol diocese. Our church had one dug-out, and there was a large gully in place of the present cathedral.
In Russia, they did not even talk about faith; the governors did not pay attention to the problems of the church. And Kirsan Nikolaevich Ilyumzhinov was the first regional leader to talk about the revival of faith, about the purity of the spiritual environment.

The head of the Republic of Kalmykia, Kirsan Nikolaevich Ilyumzhinov decided to create the Kalmyk Orthodox Diocese, and the most holy Patriarch Alexy took note of this. They created it together. Today we have 20 functioning churches.

If it were not for the support of the head of the Republic of Kalmykia, Kirsan Nikolaevich Ilyumzhinov, we would not have come out of the deplorable situation that existed before his election. Kirsan Nikolaevich Ilyumzhinov built the church in the village of Priyutnoye using his own funds.
The Kalmyk diocese has grown stronger; it has risen to its feet and is known in Russia now. They built a cathedral and houses for clergy. The representatives of dioceses from other regions are even envious of us. Everyone asks: what about Kirsan Ilyumzhinov? He is the personification of all Kalmykia!
Kirsan Nikolaevich Ilyumzhinov often visits us, and not only on holidays. He respects the Orthodox believers; he is always interested in what concerns us, and always positively solves our problems.
Now Kirsan Nikolaevich promised us to work more on the issues of religion. And among his priorities is the construction of St. Panteleimon cathedral in Elista. It is very important for us, because he does not forget about us. And although the head of the republic is Buddhist by origin, he does not single out representatives of other religious faiths or move away from them but, on the contrary, pays attention to their cares and problems.
Kirsan Nikolaevich Ilyumzhinov is an internationalist and treats everyone the same regardless of nationality or religion.

Archbishop of Elista and Kalmyk Zosima


Editorial note. Today, Zosima is Archbishop of Elista and Kalmykia.