Alexy II or Aleksy IIəlyĕk´sē [key], 1929–2008, 15th patriarch of Moscow and all Russia (1990–2008), b. Estonia, as Aleksey Mikhailovich Ridiger. He spent 11 years as a Russian Orthodox parish priest before becoming bishop of Tallinn and Estonia in 1961. Alexy went to Moscow in 1962, served (1964–68) as archbishop in Moscow, and was (1968–90) metropolitan of Leningrad (now St. Petersburg) and Novgorod. In 1990 he was elected patriarch of Moscow (head of the Russian Orthodox Church). As patriarch under Gorbachev and during the disintegration of Communist rule, the dissolution of the Soviet Union, and the reestablishment of an independent Russia, Alexy oversaw a great revival in the Russian church and its influence, including the restoration and construction of cathedrals and the introduction of Orthodox religious education in public schools. He also cultivated close ties with Vladimir Putin and was successful in persuading the government to limit the growth of competing Christian denominations. He was succeeded as patriarch by Kirill. His name sometimes appears as Alexi and Aleksiy.
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