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Russian Church Picks Three For Patriarch Vote

Metropolitans Kirill (left) and Kliment are the two leading candidates.
MOSCOW (Reuters) -- Senior clergy of the Russian Orthodox Church have selected three nominees for election the first new patriarch since the fall of the Soviet Union.

Metropolitan Kirill of Smolensk and Kaliningrad, acting head of the Russian Orthodox Church since the death of Patriarch Aleksy II last month and widely seen as a modernizer, received 97 of the total 197 votes cast by the Council of Bishops.

Metropolitan Kliment of Kaluga and Borovsk had 32 votes while Metropolitan Filaret of Minsk and Slutsk received 16 votes, church officials said. The patriarch will be chosen at a separate gathering starting on January 26.