The Russian Orthodox Church will choose [on January 27th] between three alleged former KGB agents as its next spiritual leader.
More than 700 priests, monks and lay representatives will decide who should become the new Patriarch in the first Church election since the collapse of the Soviet Union.
The contest at Christ the Saviour Cathedral in Moscow pits the favourite, Metropolitan Kirill of Smolensk and Kaliningrad, against two rivals who also rose through the heirarchy at a time when the Church was under strict Communist control.
Metropolitan Kliment of Kaluga and Borovsk, 59, is in charge of economic affairs, and Metropolitan Filaret of Minsk and Slutsk, 73, is head of the Church in Belarus. The winner of the contest, which could last until Thursday, will be the 16th Patriarch of a Church with 165 million believers.