Patriarch Alexy II, who led the revival of Orthodoxy in the country after the demise of communism, died of heart failure at the age of 79 in December 2008. Kirill, Metropolitan of Smolensk and Kaliningrad, was chosen by the Holy Synod as interim patriarch.
The shortlist includes Metropolitans Kirill, Kliment and Filaret.
Senior members of the Russian Orthodox Church met at the Christ the Savior Cathedral in Moscow on Sunday to draw up the shortlist. A full Church Council, including lay people, will then gather on January 27-28 to elect one of the three candidates as Alexy II's successor.
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If attempts to drag Russia into a direct military conflict in Ukraine are successful, it would be a catastrophe for Russia comparable to the 1979-1989 Afghan war. There is no direct evidence that the US is trying to bring about a second Afghan war, but indirect evidence abounds.