Archbishop with NZ link was a KGB agent

A church leader with responsibilities in Australia and New Zealand has been identified as a KGB agent.

According to newly released Russian intelligence archives, the late Archbishop Aghan Baliozian, former Primate of the Diocese of the Armenian Church of Australia and New Zealand, was listed as a KGB agent.

He was codenamed “Zorik” in the papers of former KGB archivist and defector Vasili Mitrokhin, which were released by the UK’s Churchill College Archive last month.

Mitrokhin’s papers allege Archbishop Baliozian was recruited by Soviet intelligence in 1973 while undertaking theological studies in Armenia.

He had “ongoing communications in three countries”, but the papers also suggest that his performance in Australia was considered unsatisfactory.

The third department of the KGB’s foreign intelligence directorate, responsible for operations in Australia, concluded Archbishop Baliozian had “insufficient operational training” and eventually discontinued his employment.

Archbishop Baliozian was strongly committed to ecumenism, working for cooperation and greater unity between Christian churches.

He was the first president of the National Council of Churches in Australia from 1994 to 1997 and represented the Armenian Church at the World Council of Churches.

Archbishop Baliozian died in 2012.

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